You might have noticed if you look at my Library Thing widget that this book had featured on it for quite a while. The fact is that although I usually stick to reading one fiction book at a time, I was finding Witch Wood to be harder going than the other John Buchan books which I’ve read. So I ended up reading about four other books whilst reading it, just to give myself a wee break from the subject matter.
I think I’ve been reading too much about the religious struggles of seventeenth century Scotland and England recently. This one of course is set in the Scottish border country and is all about the Covenanters and the upheaval in the countryside with the defeated Montrose’s men (for the King) trying to avoid being caught by the supporters of the Covenanters.
There’s romance too of course with the young Presbyterian minister David Sempill falling for Katrine Yester, and if that isn’t enough for you there’s witchcraft going on too. It seems to have been something which afflicted every country at that time, from Britain, mainland Europe and to America, a sort of madness and hysteria which persecuted any poor souls (most often women) who were a nuisance to others, with women being called witches through the jealousy and wickedness of others. There were quite a few ‘witches’ done to death in Fife, near where I live.
Anyway, as you would expect, this is a well written book but the subject matter didn’t grab me as within my own family there were people who were still very much aggrieved that it was not the Episcopalians who won that ecclesiastical battle, consequently they were very bitter towards Presbyterians, (mainly me!) I can’t be bothered with that sort of religious bigotry nonsense.
My copy of the book is a paperback Canongate Classic and it has a glossary at the back – and I can tell you that I needed it, as there were a lot of Scots words in the book which I had never heard of before, the dialogue is very broad at times. Greenmantle is still my favourite John Buchan book.