I’m really thrilled today to share my review of To Catch a Witch by Sharon Booth: this is the third and final book in the series about The Witches of Castle Clair, and was published for kindle on 28th April. As always with Sharon’s books, the kindle copy I read was my own, pre-ordered from Amazon and delivered to my kindle on publication day – I always click that pre-order button as soon as I see she has a new book on its way.
I’ve become quite a fan of Sharon’s lovely writing – actually, I’m a bit of a fan of Sharon herself too, one of the most supportive and friendly authors I know. I thoroughly enjoyed both Resisting Mr Rochester and Saving Mr Scrooge in her Moorland Heroes series – and I’ve loved two of her Christmas books too, Baxter’s Christmas Wish and The Other Side of Christmas (all links are to my reviews). I’m a little ashamed I still haven’t managed to visit Kearton Bay, Skimmerdale or Bramblewick – but I’ll look forward to doing so one day.
But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this latest series, after being enchanted by the first, Belle, Book and Christmas Candle (you’ll find my review here): and I really loved the second too, My Favourite Witch (review here). But the series really wouldn’t have been complete without Celeste’s story – and I really think I might have enjoyed this one most of all.
Return to Castle Clair for the final chapter of the St Clair story.
It’s three hundred and fifty years since the famous witch’s leap happened in the North Yorkshire town. Riverside Walk is swarming with eager tourists, wanting to pay tribute to the legendary Blaise St Clair. It’s also Christmas Eve, and the family has gathered to celebrate an eventful year, and to look forward to even better times ahead.
But a shock event changes everything, bringing a whole lot of trouble to the door of Castle Lodge.
For something big is happening in Castle Clair. Strangers are arriving, a prophecy is unfolding, a mystery is deepening, a reckoning is coming … and someone’s getting rather too fond of Mrs Greenwood’s baking.
The past is colliding with the present, and the future is in jeopardy. No wonder the High Council of Witches is a bit miffed.
Will the St Clairs have enough strength, courage ~ and chocolate fudge cake ~ to see them through?
Or is this the end of the world as they know it?
I really, really mustn’t tell you too much about the story that unfolds in this book – you do need to discover it for yourself, so I’ll just say that I found it absolutely enchanting. And although “enchanting” might be one good word, it’s also an amazingly imaginative story so perfectly delivered (the author’s never written better), exceptionally funny, most definitely a little bit quirky, but it also manages to be a really gripping read, with quite a few moments of high drama, and one of the very loveliest of love stories. Goodness, you can’t ask for much more than that, can you?
Well, the characters are thoroughly excellent too. If you’ve read the earlier books (and it’s not essential – there’s plenty of gentle catching up, and the story’s quite complete in itself), you’ll already have met Sky and Star, and know all about their special gifts. In fact, you’ll be as delighted as me to meet again so many of the characters you’ll have loved as much as I did, behaving just as badly as ever.
I just love the whole extended family too, every one of them so well drawn with their quirks and foibles, their various relationships beautifully nuanced and developed. The author really does have a particularly special touch with dialogue, using it both to move the story on – and this one’s perhaps the fastest paced of the series – but also to give depth and character to her wonderful cast.
This time it’s the third sister, Celeste, who takes centre stage. That’s somewhere she’d really prefer not to be: she’s far happier disappearing between the pages of a book while working at Castle Clair’s museum – dedicated to the legend of ancestor Blaise Sinclair and his legendary leap into the waters of the River Hrafn below. But it’s much more than a nice legend and a bit of a tourist attraction to Celeste – although her sisters try so hard to fix her up with a suitable partner, it’s difficult to find anyone who could possibly compare with her dark and brooding ancestor.
In one really dramatic moment, she finds that she has a magic that surpasses that of anyone else in her family – and its consequences draw the attention of the highest magical powers-that-be, seriously threatening the St Clair family and the very foundations of time.
All sound a bit surreal – even maybe a tad frightening? No, you’ve forgotten the humour – and, at all times, it’s quite perfectly judged. Celeste appears before the High Council of Witches, where there are some quite wonderful over-the-top characters – several of them were familiar from the earlier books, but I will admit to a particular soft spot for poor long-suffering Bob. The humour’s often in the small detail too – the challenges of contemporary clothing, the joys of Yorkshire tea, the references to Doctor Who – all done with a distinctive Yorkshire touch and a wonderful feel for the ridiculous.
The drama is real, the threat considerable, all knotted up in myth and legend, fate and destiny – the more dramatic scenes are ever so well written, and I must say that the author’s one of very few that’s made me suspend all disbelief for a while and really believe in magic. I certainly know a lot more about familiars than I knew before (every one of them – cat or raven – just perfectly drawn): but there are times when the magic’s confined those little everyday things like zapping around without the need for travel, the production of large meals at a moment’s notice and that’s just… well, just magic really!
And maybe one of the features of this book that I enjoyed the most was the romance – it might not be quite what you were expecting, but the book’s ending was just so totally perfect, a lovely technicolour wide-screen moment that warmed my heart and brought a real tear to my eye.
But it might just be that the tear was also because I’ve come to the end of a series I’ve enjoyed so very much – I’ll never visit Knaresborough (the inspiration for Castle Clair) again without hoping to catch a glimpse of the sisters who’ve entirely won my heart.
About the author
Sharon Booth writes uplifting women’s fiction — love, laughter, and happy ever after. Happy endings are guaranteed for her main characters, though she likes to make them work for it. Sharon is a full-time writer, a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and an Authorpreneur member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
She has a love/hate relationship with sugar (she loves it, it hates her), is devoted to Doctor Who and adores Cary Grant movies.
Sharon grew up in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and the Yorkshire coast and countryside feature strongly in her novels.
If you love stories with beautiful Yorkshire settings, lots of humour, romance and friendship, gorgeous, kind heroes, and heroines who have far more important things on their minds than buying shoes, then you will love her books.