What a beautiful cover. Good, I am usually not very fond of purple or the grass-green but here it looks actually pretty amazing. And in combination with the motive the cover of the German edition has and the silver of the letters, I was hooked. The book itself is a bright lavender color hardback, which fits the purple of the book jacket. Did I mention that this was my first book written by the author? Well, it is and despite my feelings for this one, I want to read the second book, too.

The Hawkweed Prophecy*
by Irena Brignull
Hawkweed Prophecy Series #1
Publisher Weinstein Publishing on September 6, 2016
Genre Children 14+
Pages 368
Format Hardcover
Source Publisher*

Poppy Hooper and Ember Hawkweed couldn´t lead more different lives. Poppy is a troubled teen: moving from school to school, causing chaos wherever she goes, never making friends or lasting connections. Ember is a young witch, struggling to find a place within her coven and prove her worth. Both are outsiders: feeling like they don´t belong and seeking escape. Poppy and Ember soon become friends and secretly share knowledge of their two worlds. Little do they know that destiny has brought them together: an ancient prophecy, and a life-changing betrayal. Growing closer, the begin to understand why they´ve never belonged and the reason they are now forever connected to each other. Switched at birth by the scheming witch Raven Hawkweed, Poppy and Ember must come to terms with their true identities and fight for their own place in the world. Enter Leo, a homeless boy with a painful past who – befriending them both – tests their love and loyalty. Can Poppy and Ember´s friendship survive? And can it withstand the dark forces that are gathering?
Poppy and her father have moved to a new town -  again. Leaving her mother behind and a life that wasn´t at all what people usually call a happy one. But new beginnings are never easy and the new school, the new teachers, the new house and her father almost never home give Poppy a feeling that is far from home or that everything is turning for the better. Until she meets Ember. From that moment on something starts to change. Finally, pieces start to fall into their right place and Poppy gets some answers to long-asked questions. 

Irena Brignull has a writing style that is not the usual one. Some words, some sentences sound old fashioned and I sometimes had to read them twice to make sure that I had read them correctly. No doubt, the author has a beautiful fantasy and has created a wonderful plot with the two girls switched at birth to let another witch fulfill the prophecy. But either my expectations were way too high or the novel just couldn´t live up to what the blurb promised. At least not in my eyes.

The language is easy to understand and the style of Irena Brignull is very smooth and without frills. It was more the fact that some things came to fast. Poppy and Ember meet for the first time and just like that they are the best of friends. Or that Ember seems to be more a supernumerary in this story. Or maybe that Leo, who shows up at some point, brings the two girls into a situation that made things only complicated.

A world where women or better said witches are the main figures and where men are only used to get pregnant. Where magic and nature guide every step, you do and where a queen has incredible power. Well, nothing against that. All that can be one hell of a plot if you play your cards the right way.

Ember is a breathtaking beauty without knowing it. Living in a witch coven she does everything to prove that she is worth being called a witch – and fails miserably. Only her mother Charlock knows the truth but stays silent. No doubt, the way how Ember discovers the things Poppy calls her world, is beautiful to watch. And reminded me of a small child that discovers everything the world offers. But because of the blurb, I had thought I would see much more of her. More of her feelings, more of her thoughts, more of what she wants. Oh yes, it becomes very soon very clear that she wants to travel, to see the world behind the borders the coven is forcing on her. But she does nothing to free herself from her boundaries. It is as if you are watching a living ghost.

Poppy is a very self-reliant young teenager. The fact, that she isn´t capable of showing feelings, that she can´t connect with others and that whenever she feels in rage or uncomfortable weird things start to happen around her, gives her the creeps. The fact, that she never laughs or that her relationship with her parents is weird – to say the least – makes her feel that something is missing in her life. Something that would answer everything and that would be the solution to her situation. The moment she discovers the truth, and starts to dig deeper and to follow her instincts is not told as a key moment, but as one of many scenes of this book.

Yes, I kind of enjoyed reading The Hawkweed Prophecy. And yes, the fantasy of the author is wonderful. But I wasn´t haunted or thrilled by it. Maybe my expectations were really too high after I had seen the cover and read the blurb. Sad, but for me, it turned out to be a novel a bit above average. Despite that, I want to read the second book as well, only to see how things will continue – because I have some unanswered questions left. 

Happy reading

*I read the German edition new release by Fischer Sauerländer on March 16, 2017. 

Irena Brignull
Irena Brignull ©private

Irena Brignull was raised in the Chiltern Hills in the southeast of England and lives today with her family in London. After she studied English literature in Oxford, she wrote scripts for award-winning movies like “Shakespeare in Love” or “The little Prince”. The Hawkweed Prophecy was nominated in 2017 for the Branford Boase Awards.


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