I’m delighted to be celebrating the publication fo The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes, a second adventure for our eponymous hero who we last saw Haunted, this time stepping into the supernatural world of witchcraft.
The Bewitching of Aveline Jones is such an incredible and haunting book, chilling in the clever way that Phil unfolds the tale creeping and itching at the edge of our senses even more so for the fact that it is honest and open with both history and folklore, and the range of human emotions as Aveline once again lifts the veil of folklore and the supernatural in a rural space.
If you enjoyed Eloise William’s Seaglass, this will prickle your spooky senses with delight.
10 months after the events of The Haunting of Aveline Jones, its the end of a lonely and lacklustre summer holidays for Aveline when Mum finds a last minute deal in a small rural village not too far, but just enough of a change from home, even if its a bit ramshackle though to make up for that Aunt Lilian, Harold and Mr Lieberman are coming in a few days too.
Just beyond the gate of their tumbledown cottage stand a ring of monoliths, standing stones locally known as the Witch Stones and Aveline is delighted to find out more. Especially so when she makes a friend of local Hazel, who is effortlessly cool, and knows so much about the magic of the stones… but is a little mysterious too, perhaps dangerously so.
“ not all witches have green skin and fly around on broomsticks’Hazel to Aveline
The Bewitching of Aveline Jones is a heady brew of the sacred geography, folklore and social history of the UK especially the South West exploring the primal reactions we have to stone circles and the history of magic and witch persecution in England. The Witch Stones of Norton Wick in the book are fictional, but the stories reflect the whispered mythology around Neolithic standing stones, rings or monoliths that survive scattered across this archipelago and yet we know so little of the truth behind these monuments, stories lost to time.
The concept within the novel of the modern and the ancient juxtaposed and yet so apart is much more common that we realise, indeed I live near a standing stones series (and I took this book there!!) which has a rich mythology of witches turning kingsmen to stone.
There is no surprise that there is a rich source of inspiration and imagination that Hickes has tapped into in The Bewitching of Aveline Jones, each of his characters are enchanted by this landscape that has drawn people here generation after generation. There is undoubtably something at the edge of wonder to observe and walk a Stone circle, stepping in the footsteps trod with hopes, thoughts, dreams for millennia yet unchanged with turning of the sun and that unbroken heritage is explored alongside a very contemporary setting and child.
Much like within the work of Eloise Williams and Catherine Fisher there is a delicious indulgence in magical superstition with reference to glamourie, sympathetic magic andtherianthropy- I’m deliberately being obscure with this to prevent spoilers but was delighted to see it. I was actually squeaking with joy to see these concepts, not simply on the page but explained positively and without the clutching of pearls, just part of the story evolving the storytelling and mythology around magic and witchcraft of these islands, even if it also hints at the devastating history.
If you want magic to happen then that’s the priceHazel to Aveline
I’ll admit, I was a little worried at first going into this that it would be a ‘save us from the bad witches’ book but I was so relieved and inspired that in the way that The Haunting explores the duality in reasoning of ghostly apparitions, the Bewitching explores the weaving of magic as an extension and expression of the content of one’s heart or character.
Whether we are bruised, whether we are forgiving, whether we are making the most of what we have or lashing out at others our choices regarding our internal story will have an impact in what we put out into the world whether that be magical or mundane.
As someone with more than a stake in this subject I was delighted to see the neutrality of the craft being explored, as a direction, a focusing or harnessing of energy and its outcome dependent not only on the person directing it, but importantly socially, historically and anthropologically; how others around them perceive it. In essence, there is no such thing as bad magic nor to be fair bad witches only hurt people using magic in a bad way which reminded me beautifully of the consequences of the curse in A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison.
All she could see was a circle of stones, as solid and still as they had been for thousands of years.
I wholeheartedly recommend this whole series, but am particularly spellbound by The Bewitching of Aveline Jones particularly for how it doesn’t just simply evoke this rich heritage of place and folklore, but enriches our understanding of the inner world of Aveline, and maybe, just maybe, these happenings are not coincidental.
Make sure to check out the other stops on the tour!!
The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes is published by Usborne
Thank you for my copy 💜