Title // Hexenhaus
Author // Nikki McWatters
Publication Date // 2016
Publisher // University of Queensland Press
Readership // #LoveOzYA
Genre // Historical Fiction
Rating // ✭✭✭
In 1628, Veronica and her brother flee for their lives into the German woods after their father is burned at the stake.
At the dawn of the eighteenth century, Scottish maid Katherine is lured into political dissent after her parents are butchered for their beliefs.
In present-day Australia, Paisley navigates her way through the burning torches of small-town gossip after her mother’s new-age shop comes under scrutiny.
Hexenhaus tells the story of three young women and their experiences with ‘witch hunts’ in their respective time periods. Veronica flees into the German woods after her father is burnt at the stake, Katherine becomes embroiled in political dissent while others try to cover it up with the hunt for those accused of witchcraft, and Paisley is left to pick up the pieces after her mother is targeted for a modern-day witch hunt in small-town Australia.
Each story is discreet, with chapters alternating for each young woman, however, the stories are all intertwined as is revealed as the story goes on. Author Nikki McWatters has obviously gone to great lengths to investigate and research the two time periods and the history of witch hunts in each era, and all of it is confronting and gruesome. However, there’s also a lot of information being given and so it sometimes slows down the narrative and I found myself skim-reading over brief sections to return to the action and forward momentum of the story.
Of all three stories, Paisley’s was the one I connected to the most, being set in the present day and easily familiar, though the accusations being thrown around at her mother were no less confronting or disturbing. What each young woman has in common is an inner strength and determination in the face of adversity, with both Veronica and Paisley both going to great lengths to protect what they believe in.
Overall I gave Hexenhaus 3 out of 5 stars.