The Wise Woman’s Tale by Phillipa Bowers

The Wise Woman's Tale by Phillipa Bowers(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Kate Barnes is 14 years old when she first experiences the strange gifts she has inherited from her grandmother’s side of the family. She has a vivid waking dream, a memory of an earlier life centuries before when she was murdered by an angry mob who believed her to be a witch. Her grandmother decides the time is right to reveal to Kate some family secrets, including the ancient cave that houses the family tomb. Just as Kate is learning to develop her second sight, her education with her grandmother is interrupted when her father insists she return home. He is determined that Kate forget her grandmother’s teachings and get a job in order to help support their growing family. But nothing will keep Kate from her destiny: to take her grandmother’s place as local wise woman and guardian of the mysterious cave.

If there’s one word I could use to describe this book it would have to be ‘confusing’ or ‘pointless’.  Throughout the book I felt like Phillipa Bowers meant to impart some knowledge to the reader, to get to the point of the story but at the end I just felt confused.  Basically, what was the point of writing this story?  It wasn’t particularly entertaining, there were no great insights and the writing was mediocre at best.

Where do I start with the writing?  Sometimes Phillipa Bowers tries to make the characters speak in a dialect characteristic of their social upbringing and the area they live in and other times it sounds like they’re almost speaking a more modern dialect.  Her writing has absolutely no transitions whatsoever, which is in part why this story is so confusing.  One minute Betty is a bratty four-year-old (as far as I can tell) and the next minute she’s darn near 13.  How the heck did that happen?  If there was a time jump she didn’t make it very obvious at all and if there was no time jump she should have done a better job making Betty’s age clear.  It’s just plain confusing.

Since the writing was so confusing, the characters were bland at best.  Kate is a stupid, naive young girl who doesn’t know how to say no to anyone.  That seems typical for the times but she never really grows out of it.  She never really realizes what is going to make her happy and her relationship with her younger sister Betty is just plain bizarre, even considering the circumstances.  Part of the problem is that when a major change happens in the story, there’s no build-up to it.  Suddenly her mum dies, her brother leaves, she moves out, her grandmother dies, etc.  There’s just no transitioning.

I can’t call the plot fast-paced in all honesty because I struggled through this book.  If the writing had been of a better quality this easily could have been a great read.  However, since the writing was of such a poor quality the plot was all over the place and I had no idea what was happening half the time.  This was just a really confusing story and I honestly couldn’t recommend it to anyone.

I give this book 1/5 stars.

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