Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Naked Witch, by Wendy Steele; a review by Diana Milne

Lizzie Martin’s new boss has asked her to ‘bare all’ and become more corporate.

For Lizzie, swapping paisley for pin stripe is like asking a parrot to wear pea hen.

She has to choose between her job and her integrity, cope with an unexpected stay in hospital, monitor her fourteen year old daughter’s latest crush, continue seeking the truth about her father’s death and juggle two new men in her life.

There is hope though.

At the bottom of the garden is a little wooden shed that Lizzie calls Sanctuary. Within its warm and welcoming walls, Lizzie surrounds herself with magic.


The Naked Witch is so far out of my usual genres of reading and interest that I genuinely wondered if I would be able to enjoy it, gain anything from it, or even be able to review it properly, but my fears were groundless. From the first page Wendy Steele welcomed me into the world of the protagonist Lizzie Martin  and her teenage daughter Rowan and, without even using any witchy magic, just exceptional use of words, enticed me to not just read, but to thoroughly enjoy this wonderful book.

Immediately one starts to read, one feels the fun and laughter and determination of Lizzie, struggling against daunting odds to pick up the pieces after a broken marriage, a new home and a new job. She is a vibrant, colourful woman, who is also a witch. By witch, I am not talking about pointy hats and dark magic, but someone who is really in tune with nature and the old ways and gods and uses her rituals as a way to calm herself and focus her mind - (we could all learn a lot from her!) - and her shed, where she goes to be herself, is a calming sanctuary.

As a heroine, she is human and flawed and any mother, any working woman, can surely relate to her struggles to be everything to everyone and still be a woman in her own right. Ms Steele's depictions of a woman watching her daughter grow from a child to a woman and back, (all on the same day sometimes, as is the wont of teenage girls,) describes the confusion, fear, pride, relief and some other ineffable feeling that I cannot name, so perfectly. So many of us have been there, seen that and survived (just!)

Conversation flows naturally and has the ring of veracity and flashes of humour, one example  being someone calling Lizzie being a vegetarian, a 'vegetablarian.' This conversation between Lizzie and her ex's girlfriend describes Lizzie's 'faith' as a witch, to a total sceptic:

Bryony met Lizzie's invitation with wide, unbelieving eyes. "You're a witch?" she whispered, checking over her shoulder for eavesdroppers.
"I live my life with the Wheel of the Year, connect with the natural world, offer up prayers to the amazing universe we live in and meditate, allowing me to learn and travel on the astral plane, so yes, I'm a witch."
"I'm not ure. I don't know if I want to summon demons."
"Bryony, did I mention demons?"
"No, but ..."
"Earth, rocks, plants, animals, the sea vibrate with energy, with life. The same life, if you like, that courses through our veins.Witchcraft gives me a spiritual connection to the world around me. Best of all, I am never alone."
"I'venever thought about the sea being alive."
"It depends how you look at it, but one thing is certain. Women and the sea are ruled by the moon."

We see and empathise with Lizzie starting out again on the dating, mating game and watch her growing friendship with her daughter's boyfriend's widowed dad with sympathy and warmth, a friendship that the reader hopes will become more after the book is over.

Throughout the book, Lizzie struggles with the relationship with her own mother and with her lack of knowledge about the death of her adored father and during a visit to her ex mother in law in Spain, sees a photo that begins to unravel the mysteries.

I really could relate to the characters and feel that Ms Steele has a rare talent for bringing interest to the day by day life of your average suburban witch, turning the mundane into a fascinating and readable story that I enjoyed from cover to cover - I totally loved the book and was able to completely escape into it. It was effortless to read because of the clever writing and I will willingly, happily add Wendy Steele to my 'read again' author list.

What other people say:

Rhea's Broomstick: 5 stars. Amazon verified purchase.

Another triumph for Witch Lit! Wendy Steele's The Naked Witch is a fun, easy read with a good storyline. Lizzie, the main character, is easily identifiable with if you are one of those women who are a little bit on the eccentric side, love magic and have the life skills to get down and do what it takes to juggle work, a teenager, an ex-husband and still have time to find love. Finding her unique fashion look from the charity shops and her sanctuary in a shed, she is a woman of resource, yet life throws her more than her share of challenges. In her search for the truth about her father Lizzie finds herself partying in Spain woven into a web of family intrigue. A brilliant book to snuggle down to a bit of 'me time' with.

You may buy The Naked Witch and Wendy Steele's other books by clicking on this link: Wendy Steele's books.

About the author:

In 1972, Wendy Steele came home from the Tutankhamun exhibition and wrote about her experience, beginning a writing journey which she still travels. Since working in the City BC (Before Children), she has trained in alternative therapies, belly dance and writing. Wendy combines these three disciplines to give balance to her life.

Her first novel 'Destiny of Angels' was published in 2012, closely followed by two short story anthologies and a non-fiction book 'Wendy Woo's Year – A Pocketful of Smiles', an inspirational guide, offering ideas, meditations and recipes to make every precious day, a happy one.

Moving to Wales, the fulfilment of a 15 year dream, inspired her to write the Standing Stone book series, set in Wales in the countryside she loves.

Writing workshops in Wales widened her writing perspective and the resulting short stories have been published online and in anthologies.

Wendy writes fantasy, with a dollop of magic, exploring the 'what if...?' the starting point for all her stories. She lives with her partner and cats, restoring her farmhouse and immersing herself in the natural world on her doorstep.

Wendy Steele

© Diana Milne 2018

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, I've started on a similar path a couple of years ago and this review has made me sit up and take notice of a genre I probably wouldn't have considered. Sounds fab :-)