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Book Review: Bitter Magic




Bitter Magic was written by Nancy Kilgore and published by Milford House Press in 2021. You can purchase it on Amazon/Kindle and you can visit the author on Amazon.


Kilgore's words have a beauty and a rhythm all of their own and the pacing flows nicely- I was entranced by her prose. I didn't want to stop reading. It was pure magic by itself.


Isobel Gowdie was a 17th century woman who confessed to witchcraft during the Scottish Reformation of the 1600s. She is the main character in this riveting historical fiction novel that examines not only her life, but the lives of all of the people who were caught up in the witch trials during that period of time.


Margaret Hay, a fictionalized seventeen year old noble woman, who is filled with curiosity meets Isobel after watching her enchant several dolphins, causing them to dance in the waters of the ocean. Margaret becomes drawn to Isobel despite her Christian upbringing and this creates a great amount of conflict within her. She is afraid that it will estrange her from her family, who forbids her from involving herself with people like Isobel. Regardless of the consequences, Margaret becomes enthralled with Isobel's magic, fairies and herbal remedies.


As pleasant and helpful as Isobel is with Margaret, things turn much darker as Isobel soon becomes entranced by the devil and black magic begins to take hold. Isobel is put on trial and she confesses to her "sins" but she admits to having a coven of witches and she names Margaret as one of them.


I love historical fiction. It transports me back to a time where I can endeavor to understand people and the places that have gone before me. To journey back to the 1800s or even the late 1700s is enjoyable for me but to take me back to the 1600s? It's a little too far removed from the present for me, but I decided to take the leap with this one- and I am so glad I did! The author made me feel very comfortable as she walked me around inside of an old Scottish castle, visiting with the people of those times. Kilgore's words have a beauty and a rhythm all of their own and the pacing flows nicely- I was entranced by her prose. I didn't want to stop reading. It was pure magic by itself.


This story had me thinking a lot about religion, our views of the world and how we quickly jump to conclusions, without deeper introspection and examination of the world and the people around us. Even to this day, we are a deeply conflicted people. If we just took the time we could learn a lot from people like Margaret and the wonderful but tortured spirit that was Isobel Gowdie.


Bitter Magic is a must read! I give it 5 out of 5 stars.


Nancy Kilgore is a scheduled guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show #103 on November 29, 2021

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