Cover Image: The Witchling's Girl

The Witchling's Girl

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was a really enjoyable read. The writing was beautiful, with whimsical descriptions that transport you straight into this magic House of the Dead near the woods. The house is one of my favorite aspects of this story, how it adapts and learns to protect its residents, how it sounds just absolutely magical and alive.
Marian was probably my favorite character. She was an exceptional mother-figure to Haley and watching their relationship flourish and Marian caring so deeply for this young girl that was left at her house really melted my heart. As a nurse, I can definitely relate to the dedicated way she cared for her patients, whether they were alive or dead. Her backstory was heartbreaking! The cruel father, the boy blackmailing her, how she had to leave her siblings with her father when she became the witchling... But she turned it around and lived a full life as one of the best witchling's for miles.
Haley was not my favorite. I loved her relationship with Callum & Aron, with Ira and Adriene, but I just did not really enjoy her obsession with Leah. It just became unhealthy, causing her to make questionable decisions and put her loved ones in danger. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely understand Leah's motives and found her to be a very interesting character, but it just rubbed me the wrong way...
I found the possession plotline super entertaining and would have loved to read more about it, to have seen it be a little more explored. It was such a cool "sickness" and it would have been cool to see Haley looking for answers and ways to save those afflicted.
The only thing that took away from the story was how slow-paced it was... The lack of dialogue and the slow burn action made the book a little hard to read at times. If it was a bit more fast-paced and a page-turner, it would have made it an even better book.
Overall, my first ARC was a success!
Was this review helpful?
I’m always a little hesitant with fantasy novels as I struggle to connect and immerse within the story, however, The Witchling’s Girl defied that statement and was a story that I found myself captured by.

In this story we follow Hayley, a young girl who discovers she has the ability to raise the dead, a Witchling. Taken by her mother to the House Of The Dead, she is raised by the older Witchling Marian. From this moment she will learn how to heal, lay to rest and become the Witchling of the town.

Death is always a difficult topic to discuss for the majority of people, especially in the context of a Young Adult novel. In this book we explore the fear surrounding death, the unknown capabilities and the question of what may or can happen when you die, I think this is a very brave and important topic to be discussed. Helena’s writing explores death in a comforting way, a beautiful way and one that is easily understood. I know the nature of the novel is around fantasy and sci-fi however, I can’t help to parallel the meaning behind the plot in real life and explore the real topic that is death itself. I want to thank Helena for being so open and yet so comfortable with the topic.

I am always drawn to books that focus on medicine, healing, death and that ‘negative’ energy we see in health. As a sick person myself, it’s very comforting to read a novel that doesn’t sugar coat or stereotype the surrounding topic of death and sickness. I think this is why the book meant so much to me, I found safety and comfort in the idea of medicine, dying and health. It was refreshing to read a story centered on sickness and death without it being overbearingly overwhelming. This novel did it perfectly.

I haven’t enjoyed a fantasy like this in a very long time and I’m incredibly honoured to have had the opportunity to read this book. I’m even tempting to buy the physical copy, so that I have it forever.

The relationships between Hayley and Marian, the character of Leah, her best friend Daniel, her mother, the Lord’s, the battles and war. Every ounce of this book I completely devoured and I am truly looking forward to discovering more of Helena’s works. One of the best books I’ve read yet.
Was this review helpful?
This book was beautifully written. Haunting, evocative and just stunning. The world building and the character development was truly superb and I became completely immersed in the place, events and relationships. Haley was a wonderful character and the way she developed and grew, both in age and maturity, over the course of the story made me feel like I truly knew her. The relationships between the characters felt real in the way that trust had to be built and each one was fallible, their mistakes creating a sense of guilt that never truly left them. The depth of the story telling was incredible, ensuring that you feel every single emotion that the characters felt. Great descriptive writing, without becoming overwhelming or overbearing. The ending was beautiful, emotional and thought provoking. This was my first read of this author but it will definitely not be my last. A solid five star rating for this book.
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Witchling’s Girl’ by Helena Coggan in exchange for an honest review.

Hayley is the girl of the title. After bringing her pet cat back to life, her mother abandons her at the House of the Dead in the care of Marian, the local witchling. Over time Hayley grows into this vital role of healer, midwife, and conduit between the dead and the underworld, that is reached through tunnels under the eight-hundred year house.

I had expected this YA fantasy to be a good fit and yet I found myself feeling very little connection to its characters and found the setting very vague with the result that the world building, aside from the concept of the witchlings and the Death House, felt absent. I don’t usually mind a slow burn but so little actually happened that its nearly 400 pages just dragged and dragged. 

I did find the Death House built from the roots of an ancient tree with its branches growing through the house and link to the Otherworld a potent symbol but it wasn’t enough. Perhaps its themes were more relevant to a YA readership, I just know that it didn’t work for me.

Clearly, I am in the minority with my disappointment with this novel as many readers found it relevant and engaging.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for review.
An original and deliciously Gothic concept, well written.
Was this review helpful?
I picked this book up around Halloween time as I wanted something spooky to read but instead I got something completely different. This book is haunting. Coggan's beautifully evocative prose and world building surrounds a battling story of love and death that will break readers hearts. The characterisation and development is what makes this book truly stunning, Haley's succession to becoming the Witchling is one heck of a journey that I'm thankful to have experienced. I can't recommend this book enough, everything about it is uniquely wonderful!
Was this review helpful?
The Witchling’s Girl is the perfect book to read in these darker months - dark, secretive and peppered with dark magic. 

I was hooked from the first chapter.  I love books based around witchcraft, so it was refreshing to read something different and imaginative. 

I fell in love with the characters, the story and the world. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it. The flow of the book is amazing and the writing style is *chef kiss*. The author did some serious research and soul seeking for this book and it shows.
Was this review helpful?
"She was the witchling and I was her girl, and if we were united in purpose and will, the town was safe." 
This is in equal parts a story about magic and humanity, life and death, and speaks volumes on the complexity of human nature and the lengths people will go to protect those they love. It's a life story filled with morality set in a rich atmosphere that will leave you breathless. 
TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR Abandonment, Death, Medical Trauma and Medical Content, Grief, Loss of a Parent, Crime, Violence, and mentions of Sexual Assult. 
The setting and atmosphere, along with the writing style was the biggest draw to this book, it is magical and mystical whilst still being raw and real in places. There are many sections that are so meaningful and profound but as a whole, it is easy to get sucked into the world. Definitely, a book that would be great to read in the autumn/ Halloween season and one I am sure a lot of people will find enchanting. 
The plot and pacing were very well done considering it encompasses many years, the middle section was a little slower in my opinion however the last half I read in a single sitting. Throughout there is definitely a fair amount of action however I would not say that this was an action-based story and definitely is more of a reflective, character-based one. 
Therefore the characters are definitely a strong point, especially our main character Haley and her tremendous growth. The commentary on the different types of love and death that was so well intertwined with the characters' thought processes was refreshing to read about, and the author didn't shy away from darker subjects whilst still being very respectful. 
I was expecting more romance from this book but I am not sure why which I think is interesting itself, by the end, I was almost glad there wasn't because it made each of the individual relationships even more meaningful. I was so invested in friendships which I am not sure I have ever done before and at times the story made me quite emotional. 
It is unique for sure, however, it shares enough similar traits that I think it should be widely received in a positive way. I definitely thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience! 
Rated: 4 Stars
Was this review helpful?
The witchling’s girl is about Hayley - a young girl who discovers she has the power to raise the dead, This automatically means she’s forced to leave her family and go live in the house of the dead, where she trains to become the next Witchling. Witchlings have the power to heal and are the caretakers of the town. They have the power to either resurrect or take the dead to the underworld, and they take vows to treat everyone that comes to them, as well as to love no one or have any families of their own.

The book traces Haley’s life as she recounts growing up with Marian and all the things she goes through. I had mixed feelings about this story. Plus side, Hayley is a formidable character - she’s fierce, strong and likeable. All the characters are well written and morally grey, which I typically love. There is an LGBTQI element to this as Haley is Bi - but it doesn’t feel gratuitous or an add on. The house itself is a characteristic the book  (nuff said 😉). The other thing I like is that the story is fairly dark and gritty so there are some real world elements that/make the stakes high for the characters. The not so great parts - it’s not fast paced. There are a lot of heavy themes and issues so it’s not light reading. It is however nuanced and I loved the moral ambiguity the characters brought to every situation.
Was this review helpful?
‘The Witchling’s Girl’ is a quiet young adult fantasy that burrows under your skin and refuses to let you go. The magical elements are intriguing, but the real heart of the story is in its emotions – sadness and longing and heartbreak and love. This is not a happy story, but it’s a profoundly impactful one that lingers long beyond the last page.

The story follows Haley – a perfectly normal child until, aged seven, she accidentally resurrects the family cat. The only people with the ability to resurrect the dead are the Witchling’s – healers and herbalists, but also those with death magic, who can resurrect the dead or take them to the afterlife for judgement. As she knows she must, Haley’s mother takes her to the current Witchling – Marion – and abandons her, leaving the Witchling to train Haley to be her successor. At first, Haley fights her fate – but every town needs a Witchling, and the costs of Haley not becoming the Witchling are worse than those she faces becoming one.

It’s impossible not to become attached to Haley. She’s introduced as a terrified seven year old, not understanding why her mother has left her behind in a strange place. She hates the Witchling and longs so badly for a freedom she will never achieve. As time passes, she grows and matures – but some of that defiant seven year old always remains, and it’s a flaw that’s eminently relatable. Haley is, at heart, a nice person – she cares about people, and wants to do the right thing, but she often cares too much and that starts to become her downfall.

The world Helena Coggan crafts is exquisite in its simplicity. In many respects it feels like Medieval Britain – small towns run by rival Lords, each with their own healer-herbalist who works to balance the humours – but Coggan has taken this framework and built a fantasy world out of it. In her version, there is death-magic – a way of healing severe wounds by giving some of your energy to another, and a way to resurrect the dead – but only once, and at the cost of that person never going to the afterlife. It’s a familiar feeling magic system, but one which works perfectly with the setting and is beautifully described.

The plot is nothing like what I expected when I picked this up. It’s cleverly crafted, with little hints dropped throughout, but still manages to catch you by surprise. The first few chapters are reminiscent of novels like ‘The Sin Eater‘ – historical fiction about a child outcast – but this goes in an entirely different direction, weaving in political upheaval and supernatural entities and, above all, a child forbidden from connecting with others trying – but failing – to follow that vow. Haley doesn’t make good, or logical, decisions, but each one is completely understandable, and the story doesn’t shy away from the consequences. This is magical realism, but the fact that the protagonist is allowed to make these childish decisions makes it feel more real than many similar novels that follow stricter historical fiction.

The writing is one of the best parts. It doesn’t try to be flowery or lyrical; doesn’t craft elaborate descriptions – it just tells the story, but it does it in such a way that every emotion is a stab through the heart. There are a few moments where the flow isn’t perfect, but beyond those this is a masterclass in the effectiveness of simplicity.

Overall, this is a story that’s far more than the sum of its parts. If you’re looking for fantasy filled with action and bold characters this isn’t the book for you – but if you want to read something quieter, something that focuses on character and connection, something that crafts a little bubble of a world and explores the delicate dynamics within that, then this is a recommended read.
Was this review helpful?

'The Witchling's Girl' follows Haley, a girl born with the gift of death-magic, and at the age of seven her mother abandons her to the witchling to be raised as her successor. But as Haley grows older and learns her craft, she finds it harder and harder to keep her vows and be the perfect and impassive healer.

This book intrigued me from the start, loving the premise, characters and cover, however, reality was a little less exciting and more disappointing.

Haley was an interesting character, with fascinating characterisation and development and a love story that I much appreciated the representation of. However, there was very little dialogue with her, as it was mostly told through description and narrative, which made it difficult to become invested in her world.
Marian was a more developed character, with her stern persona and the development of her personality and relationship with Haley made it more worthwhile. She began stoic, yet with time and growth, became more caring and loving towards the protagonist. It was a wonderfully blossomed relationship.
Leah's character was a little underdeveloped too, making her relationship with Haley appear very forced and disappointing at times. There was very little growth between the characters, making it seem as if they were placed in this world with very little purpose or direction.

The novel itself was incredibly slow-burning, making the read appear more like a chore than for personal enjoyment. There definitely needed to be more action to increase the pace of the novel and keep up the gripping investment that the novel's summary had. The writing style is well written, however, with a gripping narrative voice and characterisation. Yet, everything else kind of fell through.

Overall, I'm disappointed with this novel, having expected to absolutely love it, however, there just wasn't enough pacing to keep my intrigue.

Was this review helpful?
An atmospheric, beautifully written YA novel about magic, self-sacrifice and one girl's search for who she really is. ⠀

Hayley was born with the gift of death-magic and at age seven (after she was caught resurrecting her cat), Hayley’s mother hands her off to the care of Marion at the House of Dead, where she must vow to abandon any hope of family/ love and future relationships and give her life to become the next Witchling.

Hayley tries everything to escape her dark and solitary life but every Village must have a Witchling (their healer; their midwife; their bridge between the living and the Underworld) and so she is torn and tormented by her fate. 
Coggan skills fully crafts a fantastic, dark yet captivating tale, as we see Hayley seeking to find her place in this world - bound by duty, fear and love. It really is captivating to see how Hayley’s character develops, as she goes from a troubled young girl into a powerful Witchling. 

You all know how much I love my witchy books and this story did not fall short. From
the very first page, I was truly enthralled and entertained. It’s not a whimsical story but rather a slow, raw and atmospheric narrative. The writing is magical and characters are unique and fascinating. A cliche, but it really was a gripping page- turner.   ⠀ 

Thank you to the author, @hodderbooks and @netgalley for the arc. Releasing on the 7th January, this is definitely one for your TBR. 

5 starlights ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌟
Was this review helpful?
Every town has a witchling. They live in the House of the Dead. They are healers, midwives, and they carry the dead to the underworld. They have laws. They cannot love, they cannot kill, and they cannot have a family.
Haley was seven when her death magic manifested. Her mother took her to the House of the Dead and left her there. She is no longer a daughter. She is the witchling's girl.

I loved this. The writing style is fantastic. I was fascinated by the magic. I was hooked from the start. There were a couple of slow spots, but other than that, it was great. And the cover is gorgeous!
Was this review helpful?
The Witchling’s Girl is a lyrical and magical story about Hayley, the titlular Witchling’s Girl, who was born with death-magic and is given to Marian for further instruction in magic. We follow Hayley as she grows up into the role of the Witching — the town’s healer and midwife to both the newly-born and the newly-dead. I loved this aspect of the story in particular and felt it was incredibly well orchestrated. 

The world-building is wonderful and so descriptive! I loved the chthonic aspects of the story, beneath the House of the Dead, but my heart pulled for both Marian and Hayley, who, as Witchlings, cannot have family or friends due to the nature of their work. Sadly, even though the Witchling provides essential services for the town, the fear of Witches runs deep and dark, and this is something that Hayley must learn to balance. 

The characters get under your skin and I found myself wondering about them long after I’d finished reading this book. Despite her magical abilities, Hayley is so human that it’s hard not to relate to her. She is contradictory and frustrating but at the same time so utterly, messily human that you cannot help but feel for her. The other characters are equally well-drawn and I really loved Marian in particular. 

This is a magical story and has some fascinating insights on alternative concepts around death, dying, and bereavement. Highly recommended! 

I received an e-ARC from the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Helena Coggan writes amazing worlds. Everything is so detailed, the rules make sense, the ways people act make sense. I thought that the exposition was much better here than in the last one of hers I read, which tend towards info dumping. This one is much more subtle; information is given out over time, as it becomes relevant.

I did think it was quite long, but given that it covers years where a lot of things happen, the length is probably justified. Just be aware going into it that it's going to take a while to get through.

If you like well crafted, intricate, unusual fantasy worlds with occasionally unlikeable but always well meaning heroines, this is one for you.
Was this review helpful?
Death magic, witchlings, an army of lords, and witches. A perfect combination for this vivid and intense story that pulled me in from the first page and didn't let go. Hayley is born with death-magic and at the age of seven becomes the Witchling's girl. After the army of lord Jonathan invades her town and her Witchling mentor Marian is killed, Hayley becomes the witching and must now tend to the town's sick and dead. Witchling's take vows and as Hayley struggles to keep hers we are pulled deeper and deeper into the story and her faith in the witch Leah. 

The writing is beautiful and lyrical and a pure joy to read. The world is brought to life in truly stunning atmospheric descriptions so you feel like you are in the House of the Dead surrounded by death and sickness and ghosts. It is a beautiful and yet tragic tale the flows at just the right pace. It pulls at the heartstrings and keeps you captive as you turn page after page to see what fate has in store for Hayley next. 

The action is tense in all the right places and I certainly look forward to reading more from the author. I loved everything about this book and can't wait to recommend it to friends and family.
Was this review helpful?
Hayley is the Witchling's Girl; a fact we discover when, at age seven, she resurrects her family cat. Her mother hands her off to the care of Marion and the House of the Dead, and we watch as she grows from a troubled child to a skilled - if haunted - Witchling.

The writing is beautiful, and Coggan crafts a world that is grim yet captivating. The story caught me from the very first page and did not release me until the last... at which point, I sat myself down and had a little cry. I am in awe of this story, and cannot wait to read it again once it is published.

This is a wonderful, atmospheric, dark, witchy read. The Witchling's Girl comes out on 07 January 2021 (the perfect treat for those post-holiday blues?). I could not recommend it more.

Huge thank you to @hodderbooks and @netgalley for the ARC. Pleased that one of my first ARCs was such a pleasure to read!
Was this review helpful?
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading The Witchling's Girl. 

This book tells the story of Haley, who discovers she's a witchling... which basically means she has the power to raise and guide the dead.. we follow her time as the Witchling's girl while she's training and learning how to care for the sick and dead in her town, all the way up to her time as the witchling and then her death. 

Witchlings are not allowed to have family or friends but Haley manages to have meaningful relationships with some of the people in her town. 

The story is told incredibly well but it's also incredibly heartbreaking. Helena Coggan's writing is lush and detailed without being boring and bogged down. She tells Haley's story perfectly. ❤
Was this review helpful?
The Witchling's Girl is the story of Haley, a young girl who discovers that she possesses a strange magic when she accidentally brings her dead cat back to life. Unfortunately for her, this is death magic, and means that her life is about to change forever. Given away by her family, she's made to go live with the Witchling, the town's healer, midwife, and undertaker. Now Haley must learn the ways of the Witchling, learn how to heal the sick, raise the dead, and deliver corpses to the underworld in service to the people who now fear her powers.

I was instantly hooked with The Witchling's Girl. There was something about this strange new world that fascinated me, and the fact that Helena Coggan chose to write the book from Haley's point of view is a large part of this. Much like Haley we start the experience not knowing much, and discover things through her perspective. At first Marian, the town Witchling, is a frightening figure, one who is keeping Haley from her family, forcing her into a life that she does not want. But over the course of the book our perception of things changes alongside Haley's, we discover just what the Witchlings are, and why they're important, and just like Haley, we come to see it as an vital and noble calling, one that isn't to be feared.

The subtle shifts that Coggan allows to play out in the story are fantastic, and the Haley we follow at the start of the book is so different from who she is midway through, and who she then goes on to be at the end of the book that you don't even realise how radical a journey and changes she's been through until you look back once you've reached the end. We have a protagonist who is a terrified child, a dutiful student, a loving friend, a lawbreaker, and a determined protector. Haley goes through such an amazing journey in this book that she's a more well rounded and multifaceted a character than some I've seen in series that span several novels. And despite her magical abilities, and her different world, she's so human and so relatable that you'll be hard pressed not to fall in love with her.

The novel is set in some unnamed fantasy world, a place where the worlds of the afterlife, and the rules around death, are very different. We get hints of this throughout the book, of nations at war with each other, beings who have descended from heaven to walk amongst humans, but all of this is background, barely touching up against the heart of the story, which is the life of this one woman. At first I found myself wanting to learn more about this world, but then I realised it didn't really matter. We get given the information that we need, that's important to Haley's story, and that's it. In a story about a woman who can't leave her hometown, who has to be easy to find and accessible so that she can help the people around her the things that don't directly affect her aren't important. Do I really need to know about this land far away that an army is planning to invade? No, not really, and I was really okay with that. It felt like a bigger, more realised world because Coggan didn't feel the need to try and show this stuff off, and simply allowed readers to experience this small corner of it.

With so many fantasy stories wanting to show off the worlds they inhabit, to tell grand, sweeping epics with the fate of the world on the line it felt like a breath of fresh air to have a book that slowed things down a little, and allowed its characters to be the important part. This is a book about people more than anything else, about a young woman forced into a life she never asked for, who's trying to do the best she can for people, and who ultimately wants to do the right thing, even if that's not the easiest thing. The Witchling's Girl is a one of the first books for 2021 I've read, but it's one that I know I'm still going to look fondly on come the end of the year; an absolute amazing read.

5 stars
Was this review helpful?
The moment I saw that Helena Coggan had written another book I knew I wanted to read it. 

The Orphanage of the Gods is a book that lives rent free in the back of my mind and after finishing the Witchlings Girl it seems it is just a gift of the authors to create worlds and characters which stay with you. 

I loved every aspect, every word and every sentence of the Witchlings Girl. 
The pacing and the world building and the lyrical, yet harsh prose fit together like a puzzle piece. 

It is a story which came running from the left, out of the blue,  and bowled me over - leaving me utterly and completely confused and yet in wonder. 

Haley herself is a contradictory character, one which feels you with hope, and then also makes you want to bash your head against a wall in frustration. She is a coward, and yet a truly human being who can and will become more as she grows. 

The timeline of the books is the only aspect which annoyed me a little -, it jumps back on itself and moves from one moment to the next - not always in a linear fashion, which left me confused in the beginning of the book before I got the hang of its movement. 

There is an opportunity in this book for an epic fantasy novel, and yet what we follow is the death and life of a small village witchling and those are books I think we need just as much as the ones depicting the wars that change countries. 

I was throughly humbled. I laughed and I cried a little at this book. 
And in the end I wanted to go back to the first page and read it again.
Was this review helpful?