Sunday, November 29, 2009


Sorceress by Celia Rees 2002

Rating: 4/5

IQ "On their own they [wampum beads] fall and scatter. Put them together, though, and you've got something else. Together they make up something big. Together they preserve the words. This is how I figure it: you, me, Mary, the people in her life, the folk Alison has found out about, Alison herself-we're like the beads on this belt. Look at us apart and you can't tell a lot. But put us together and then you can read the whole story." Aunt M pg. 310

Sorceress is the sequel to Witch Child by Celia Rees and I recommend that you read Witch Child first to really understand what's going on, I may review it later on (after I get through my mountainous tbr pile). Agnes Herne, also known as Karonhisake (Searching Sky) attends college in Boston. She reads a book about Mary Newbury (the main character of Witch Child, an orphaned girl who comes to America and lives with the Puritans. She is forced to flee her home when people begin to suspect she's a witch. Mary does not deny it) and believes she may be related to her, since it is thought that Mary lived with a Native American tribe for much of her life. Agnes is of Mohawk descent and her Aunt M has told her stories about an unnamed young woman who sounds a lot like Mary Newbury and Aunt M has a box containing personal artifacts that may have belonged to Mary.

I don't want to spoil the book too much for those who haven't read Witch Child yet. I really enjoyed Sorceress. Agnes is essentially 'possessed' by Mary Newbury. She sees events through Mary's eyes. Mary lives in the time leading up to King Phillip's War and after the war. King Philip was the English name for a powerful Wampanoag chief who was the leader of the Native Americans fighting against the English (read here for more information). Since I love history, I really liked reading a more personal perspective on King Philip's War. It was an appealing read, especially when I learned that not all Native Americans wanted to fight the English, even though the English were stealing their land. I also really enjoyed reading about the powers Mary and Agnes have. I don't know anything about shamans and I thought it added an intriguing element to the story.

I would have liked to see more character development of Agnes. I understand that this was Mary's story, but if that's the case I don't really think Agnes should be mentioned. Her part was interesting, but I didn't get to know her at all. All I know is that she's shy, a Mohawk and has medicine power. Same thing with all the other characters; Sim, Aunt M, Alison. The book is relatively a long read and it's not all that quick, there were some parts that weren't boring, but a bit slow to unravel. So adding more details about the characters would have lengthened the book a bit, but I think it's necessary, since I think the characters all have interesting stories. The ending was satisfying and I liked how it's written in a historical format called Background Notes, that includes interviews and diary accounts.

I didn't find any reviews that named Sorceress as a books that is disrespectful to Mohawk/native American culture. I think it did a pretty good job, especially because Aunt M rallies against white people who put precious Native American artifacts (like wampum belts) in museums and don't take care of them. The book provided good insight into why some Native Americans don't want their history and belongings being displayed in museums. It's clear Celia Rees did her research, even though she lives in England, she mentions in her Acknoweldgements that she visited America a few times and talked to Mohawks and historians of Iroquois tribes (the larger umbrella Mohawk falls under, there are six Iroquois nations). A good historical fiction read with an element of supernatural/fantasy. I especially recommend this book to fans of Witch Child, it's a good sequel. 8th grade and up.


  1. Keep doin' what you do. Thanks for consistently bringing attention to solid poc reads.

  2. I am kicking myself because I saw both of these titles in a used book store and put them back (I was already holding 5-6 books). I think the library has a copy and I will be checking this out. Great review. That is my tribe too.

    Elie (Ellz Readz)

  3. Nice review. I loved her other book, Sovay, and am looking forward to reading this one.


  4. susan-thanks. I love doing what I do and I'm so happy to be helping (in my small way) expose books about poc to all.

    Elle- Go back and buy them! Well, I liked Witch Child, but I don't know if I would buy it (it was a gift for me). I defintely want to read more about the Mohawks, since all that I've read (aside from Sorceres) gives them a bit of a bad rep, describing them as fierce, bullying people.

    Kelsey- I've heard that Sovay isn't very good actually. Read Pirates by her as well. It's one of my favorites :)


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