Book Review: The Witch's Tree by Elena Collins


An iPhone 6 showing the cover of Elena Collins' The Witch's Tree.



The Witch's Tree is a tale of the deliverance of two women from the heartbreak caused by betrayal and loss. It is written by Judy Leigh under the pen name Elena Collins, the name of her grandmother whom Leigh described as a great storyteller. Leigh is a prolific writer from Somerset in South West England who writes heartwarming stories about older women and second chances. She also loves digging into history and incorporating historical details in her stories. In the Witch's Tree, Collins gives us a picture of the lives of farmworkers in Somerset in the 17th century and how they were shaped by their beliefs in superstition and the supernatural. 


Selena's world shattered to pieces after her boyfriend left her in the mud. Determined to heal her heart and soul, she found herself in a Sloe Cottage in Somerset village. The place was exquisite, perfect for healing and creative endeavors. The longer she stayed in the house, the more it revealed its secrets.

More than three hundred years ago, Grace Cotter resided in the same house, the Sloe Cottage, living a simple life, working on a farm, taking care of her father, and learning from her loving grandmother. There's one wish that she held close to her heart, to marry the man of her dreams. When she got a chance to be with the man she loved, she gave her all, a decision that turned her fate into a dangerous turn.

Despite being born hundreds of years apart, their paths crossed, imbuing them with their own power to find healing and closure.


"Love is the way of the world, and it is natural to seek it."
- Bett

‘There are all sorts of myths surrounding the blackthorn, from way back to the time of the Celts. Death, misfortune – some people call it the witches’ tree – it has a long association with witchcraft. It’s about opposites too: spring and autumn, blossom and berry. '
- Nick

‘Accusations of witchcraft were the go-to forms of misogyny and prejudice in those days. Women were persecuted for being too young, too old, too attractive, too lonely, a little bit different – one whisper of a problem in a community and people were calling some poor unfortunate woman a witch.’
- Nick


  • The title made me expect to read about witchcraft and magick but I was surprised to find out that it's more about revealing the truth about witchery. Witches were women who were victims of stories fabricated by those who wanted to blame them for sudden death, illness, or misfortune in the community. It's an eye-opening story. Although it's not a story about witchcraft in general, the petrifying scenes are haunting.
  • Grace's character is likable. She served her father and others with full of love. She was gentle not only with people but also with animals. Her sad story stemmed from her sincerity and competence mistaken for witchery.
  • Collin packed the novel with historical details that bring readers to the 1600s. The voice of each character is distinct; the houses, farms, and places of work are described vividly.


  • The story is slow because some parts provide too much information about the setting or the feelings of a character. At one point, I felt like giving up reading because my anticipation of the more exciting parts was gradually waning. Grace's story was my redeeming factor.
  • There are parts that could be omitted to sustain the general emotional charge that the whole chapter is expressing. There's an argument between two characters that is very emotional but ended on a silly note, making the scene funny.
  • The romantic story of Selena is not that convincing. I was surprised that they became an item towards the end of the story. This part of the story wasn't able to release butterflies in my stomach.


Elena Collins' The Witch's Tree intertwines two heartbreaking stories of women separated by time but connected by their search for justice and healing. It explores the veracity of the tales of witches and atrocities against women who were victims of hearsay and false accusations in the 17th century. While the story is laden with heavy themes, the intensity of the emotions conveyed is not overwhelming. 

The two worlds Collins created are realistic and appropriate. The language, clothing, and people's interactions are cohesive to the setting and time, making the reading experience pleasant. The modern setting works but the 17th-century timeline is more interesting. 

Even though the story is slow and the highest point is less mind-blowing, it opens the eyes of the readers to see that allegations of witchcraft are what Collins called "go-to forms of misogyny and prejudice in those days". Grace's story is reflective of the lives of women who were used as scapegoats for the ill luck in the community. Justice was already out of reach after hundreds of years but the acknowledgment of her existence and history in the present brought healing. 

This book is great for those who are looking for a light historical novel about love, betrayal, loss, and deliverance. 

Thank you, Elena Collins, Boldwood Books, and NetGalley for the ARC and the opportunity to share my honest review. 


Book Information:

The Witch's Tree by Elena Collins
To Be Published on May 17, 2022, by Boldwood Books
401 pages (eBook)

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