Witch Light, by Susan Fletcher is a compelling historical fiction set amidst the green hills and bloody events of the Glen Coe Massacre.
Wild, young Corag sits in a jail cell, condemned to burn as both witch and traitor for her hand in warning the MacDonald’s of their doom, and allowing some to escape over the mountains. She is our heroin, bewitching as the hills themselves.
Charles Lesley is sent by the King to gather Corag’s testimony of the events, to which she gives so long as he listens to the years of her life leading up to her incarceration. Her darkest moments are heart breaking. Dutifully, Lesley listens to the filthy girl in the dank cell until eventually he warms, leaving him to wonder of the justice in her condemnation.
The contrast of the character’s perspective, both in nature and stylistically, proves to be as compelling as it is complimentary. Corag’s voice is uniquely fluid, verging on stream of conscious, while Lesley is to the point, and solely told through letters to his wife.
Fletcher’s prose through her heroin’s voice are equal parts beautiful as they are haunting. The landscape becomes as lush as the characters, making mighty mountains loom in the mind's eye of the reader. She equally encapsulates the Highlander culture through close attention to detail cementing historical immersion. History is alive and the blood feels fresh upon the land.
A heart wrenching story of young woman in the midst of a historical tragedy who’s echoes can still be heard today.
This book holds a fond place on my book shelf, both for the story’s extraordinary young woman and of a tragic event made more than just a glossy placard, adding rich substance to an already brooding landscape.
A book both surprising and compelling especially for those who crave good historical fiction set in Scotland.
Reviewed by Kelsey Ward. 02 Mar, 2019