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Review of Montacute House by Lucy Jago

by - May 18, 2011

At first a boy’s body is discovered, then John, Cess’s best friend, disappears . . . What is the mystery behind these sinister events?

Cess works caring for the chickens at Montacute House but on her thirteenth birthday everything changes. She finds a precious locket hidden in the chicken coop and is convinced someone has placed it there for her to find. But the day is overshadowed by fear as a boy’s body is found by the river, and then John disappears. Cess is determined to find him but is soon embroiled in a plot that threatens her world and forces her to draw on powers she never knew she possessed, powers that will place her life in danger if they are discovered by the villagers. Witchcraft, politics and religious ambition combine in this gripping and wonderfully realised novel set in the Somerset of the 1500s.

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I've wanted this book for a while, so I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. At points I had to physically force myself to read this book. The plot kinda felt like it was all over the place and the characters felt very clichéd. The plot was fairly basic with some uniqueness but not enough to make me want to keep reading.

The story felt like it was aimed toward the younger YA set but I'm not sure to be honest. The main character is 13 (unlike the model on the cover!) but she does come across as younger. On the other hand Drax, a man of around 30 years of age, I kept forgetting his character was over the age of 15. There was also Will, who I couldn't connect with at all. He wasn't around long enough for me to connect with him before he disappeared so I didn't really care whether he lived or died.

Somewhere down the line, to spice things up a bit, there's a new character thrown in that Cess ends up in love with. So the idea of a chick saving her boyfriend is thrown out of the window. Poor Will. I'm not quite sure why there needed to be a love interest thrown in. It didn't add anything to the story and although Jasper was useful at times and one of the most interesting characters he could quite easily have been a chick.

The main unique factor in this story was magic. Yes, real magic, not 'ooh, she's got a broom, burn her!' magic but actual witches and a coven, which I quite enjoyed reading about. I would have liked to have the story about that and not some complex political plot with a thousand holes in it. Another problem I had was the house itself. Montacute House is real, you can visit it and everything but it was completed in 1601. The story is set in 1596. I'm rather confused about this. I found this on Google very easily so I have to wonder where the author did her research.


Received free from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

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