#Review: The Witch’s Tree by Elena Collins @JudyLeighWriter @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #blogtour #publicationday #BoldwoodBloggers #TheWitchsTree

By | May 17, 2022

I’m really delighted today to be helping launch the blog tour for The Witch’s Tree by Elena Collins, and to share my publication day review: published by Boldwood Books, it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited), in paperback, and as an audiobook. As always, my thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).

You’ll know by now how much I love Judy Leigh’s writing – the older characters I can always identify with, the second chance romances, the wonderful humour side-by-side with the loveliest emotional content (great stories too!) – and if you pop her name into my search bar you’ll find lots of reviews of her books, every one my new favourite. But I was rather excited when I heard about her latest venture – three new books for Boldwood, to be published under the name of Elena Collins. On her Amazon page, she explains how these books will include three things she loves – delving into history, exploring stunning locations, and evoking the possibility of the supernatural. She promises tales of people’s lives then and now, with some spine-tingling moments… and I was hooked before I’d even read a word.

Let’s take a closer look…

A tale as old as time. A spirit that has never rested.


Present day


As a love affair comes to an end, and with it her dreams for her future, artist Selena needs a retreat.  The picture-postcard Sloe Cottage in the Somerset village of Ashcombe promises to be the perfect place to forget her problems, and Selena settles into her new home as spring arrives.  But it isn’t long before Selena hears the past whispering to her. Sloe Cottage is keeping secrets which refuse to stay hidden.




Grace Cotter longs for nothing more than a husband and family of her own. Content enough with her work on the farm, looking after her father, and learning the secrets of her grandmother Bett’s healing hands, nevertheless Grace still hopes for love. But these are dangerous times for dreamers, and rumours and gossip can be deadly. One mis-move and Grace’s fate looks set…


Separated by three hundred years, two women are drawn together by a home bathed in blood and magic. Grace Cotter’s spirit needs to rest, and only Selena can help her now.

Well, I must say that I loved this one – two stories, past and present day, satisfyingly wrapped around each other, both equally engaging, both with heroines I took to my heart, and a really compelling read.

In the present day, Selena decides to leave London after fairly major relationship problems – she’s an artist, running a small gallery with a friend, and the break should also give her the opportunity to work on her pictures without any distractions. She becomes part of the life of the Somerset village of Ashcombe, making new friends – and one with the potential to become rather more – and takes full advantage of the light and airy conservatory at Sloe Cottage for her painting and every trip into the surrounding countryside to inspire her. But the older part of the house is rather different – there’s a distinct atmosphere and presence, a fire burning constantly to dispel the chill, and the blackthorn outside the window taps rather ominously at night.

In the historic story, set in the 1680s, we meet Grace, living in relative poverty and caring for her ailing and hardworking father: she works on the same farm where they’re tenants, keeping herself to herself while milking cows with a facility none of the others can achieve, also helping out her midwife grandmother with local births. She’s a complete innocent, naive and trusting, and there are always those who will take advantage – and in her case, it proves to be particularly life changing, followed by a series of accusations that might destroy her.

The stories are really well tied together by Selena’s need to find out more about the history of the cottage, and the increasingly disturbing nocturnal activity that makes her feel she has a part to play in putting the past to rest.

I always so enjoy a dual-time story – and this one is exceptionally well done, the transitions between past and present entirely easy and smooth, and there was never any point when I felt wrenched out of one story into the other. There’s an overall lightness about Selena’s story, helped by a strong supporting cast and a nice (and convincing) touch of new romance: Grace’s story is rather more harrowing at times, with so much anger and injustice about the way she’s treated, but with an equally well-drawn supporting cast. The cottage itself is almost an additional character, and there’s a vivid sense of place. And there’s a particular authenticity about the whole historical setting that I really enjoyed – undoubtedly painstakingly researched, and used to recreate day-to-day life through that difficult period of history with its prejudice and superstition extraordinarily vividly. It’s a wonderfully emotional story too – I was entirely caught up by it, on the edge of tears as its climax approached and the pages turned ever faster.

I will admit I do sometimes struggle a little with supernatural elements – I’m just a bit of a wuss, inclined to revisit the books I read in my dreams – but although there are certainly plenty of spine-tingling and distinctly unsettling moments that feel entirely real, it’s gently handled and never threatening, and there was nothing that gave me sleepless nights.

I notice that the publishers recommend this book for fans of Barbara Erskine, Diana Gabaldon and Louise Douglas – and I’d most certainly agree. I’d add Susanna Kearsley and Christina Courtenay too – and if you enjoyed Kate Ryder’s Secrets of the Mist you’ll find this book has a very similar atmosphere, along with equally strong storytelling. I really loved this book – and recommend it really highly.

About the author

Elena Collins is the pen name of Judy Leigh. Judy Leigh is the bestselling author of Five French Hens, A Grand Old Time and The Age of Misadventure and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.

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2 thoughts on “#Review: The Witch’s Tree by Elena Collins @JudyLeighWriter @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #blogtour #publicationday #BoldwoodBloggers #TheWitchsTree

  1. Judy Leigh

    Thanks for my first review in this blog tour – it’s always thrilling to receive the first one and I’m touched by what you’ve written. You’re so kind and thoughtful and you write such lovely things. Thanks again, Anne!

    1. Anne Post author

      Always a pleasure Judy – I loved this one!

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