Wise Child by Monica Furlong is one of those books that I am amazed not to have discovered earlier. It is the sort of book that I would have relished as a teen -- I relished it now.
Wise Child finds herself on her own
after the death of her grandmother. Her mother has long since left the
village, and her seafaring father cannot be depended upon to provide for
her well-being. The village priest asks the parishioners to take Wise
Child in as an act of charity, but the whole village is surprised when
Juniper, the village witch, offers to take the child in. Under Juniper's
care, Wise Child learns about herb lore and healing, and real magic as
well. Wise Child learns to love her unusual guardian. But when the tide
of sentiment in the village turns against Juniper, will Wise Child and
Juniper be able to avoid a terrible fate?
character development here, as well as some very nice worldbuilding. I
would like to have a while to explore Juniper's house, which strikes me
as a very comfortable and satisfying dwelling. Wise Child comes across
as a little bit spoiled at the beginning of the book, but even so I
found her sympathetic and interesting. Definitely recommended.
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)