Cover Image: Babes in the Wood

Babes in the Wood

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Member Reviews

I am really enjoying this series which blends witchcraft and World War II. Given these two subjects maybe I shouldn't be surprised that the books are becoming darker as the series progresses.
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Fun and easy reading, it hovered somewhere between the vibe of cosy crime fantasy style and children's fiction.
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Due to the miscalculation and mistakes on my part while requesting this book; as this is a continuation from a previous book in a series, I won't be able I provide any feedback in the time being until I get a hold of the first book. Thank you.
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Although this is only the second book in the series, something about it felt so welcoming and familiar it was like being greeted by an old friend, and there was a sense of coming home.

Mark Stay doesn’t hang about in throwing the reader straight into the action as a plane falls from the sky right into Woodville within just a few sentences. As often seems to be the case in Woodville, nothing is straightforward, and the arrival of some surprise residents soon sees a fascinating story unraveling, and plucky, spirited Faye finds herself right in the heart of things once more. I love Faye’s attitude to life and she is fast becoming one of my favourite literary heroines.

In balance with the drama that unfolds, the story of the kindertransport arrivals is beautifully told and my heart bled for them,  and there were also little nods to the pandemic which made the book and the experiences of the characters feel very relatable, for example, Faye’s glasses steaming up when she puts her gas mask on, Charlotte’s comment about how there is more death around but that magic can’t solve sorrow. As much as I am all about the magic, it is these touches that really ensured this book has a permanent place in my heart.

Once again, Mark Stay has produced a book that is utterly charming, sometimes funny, and sometimes a little bit scary. It was a joy getting to know more of the colourful Woodville residents, and I am excited to keep doing so in future books.
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I read "The Crow Folk" and fell in love with this series, having a lot of fun and loving the world building and the great characters.
It would be easy to compare Fanny to Tiffany Aching and, even if there's some similarity, we have to take into account the different setting: Fanny's stories are set against a historical background and the characters are affected by what is happening and WWII. 
I think that the author pays homage to Terry Pratchett but he does with his own voice and his own style of storytelling.
The author did an excellent job in delivering another gripping and highly entertaining story. There're some creepy moments, plenty of humour, and I couldn't stop reading as I was involved by the plot and the twists.
The world building is fascinating and I can't wait to read other stories as I want to learn more and read about Fanny and the great cast of characters (the old witches are fabulous)
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Building and improving on the wonderful world Mark set up in the previous book, this book was an utter delight to read. Bringing in a fantastic mystery element to the story-telling, I was turning the pages eager for the next reveal. This is a big-hearted, warm, funny and mesmerising rural fantasy.
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Babes in the Wood is the second of the Witches of Woodville series by Mark Stay and I enjoyed it even more than the first installment, The Crow Folk.

Babes in the Wood has got it all: plane crash explosions, spies, Nazis, evil toffs, enchantments and the tree of life.  It's a truly exciting read where I really rooted for the lead character, teenage trainee witch Faye. A thoroughly recommended read - but read The Crow Folk first to get the background!

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy in exchange for honest feedback.
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Fantastic fun! Comic fantasy meets historical fiction. The witches of Woodville battle against an evil Nazi warlock. What's not to like?!
Quite possibly better than the first book in series and that's no easy thing.
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This is the second book in the Witches of Woodville series, following the adventures of Faye as she learns about witchcraft, battles the forces of evil and does her bit to defeat the Nazis. 

I enjoyed the Crow Folk, but I think this is even better. The characters deepen - Faye herself is a great heroine - down to earth, passionate, brave - and getting to know the other witches in the coven a little more is great. 

The storyline is lots of fun, featuring Jewish refugees, Nazi magicians, spies, apples of immortality, and a backing cast of assorted villagers. There's some tragedy here, a lot of common sense, and some great descriptions of magic. 

The story bounces along, lots of incident, quite a few twists and turns, and a satisfyingly sensible ending. I'm looking forward to number 3 in the series (had to read number 1, obviously)

Thank you, NetGalley, for letting me read this.
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The Witches of Woodville are fast becoming a firm favourite, there's a light humorous touch to the writing and some sharply observed social commentary, mixed with some great characters who have plenty of heart. Set during WWII there's some clever trope play and some evil baddies that are almost parodies of evil baddies. I can't wait to see how things develop for Faye, both magically and romantically, she's such a wonderful character.
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Babes in the Wood is the second in Mark Stay’s Witches of Woodville series, and I have to say that after reading The Crow Folk (not that long ago, I might add), I can’t stop raving about these books. They are just bloody brilliant and so much fun.
The story starts not too long after the events of The Crow Folk, with Faye now being a fully fledged trainee witch under the tutelage of Mrs Teach and Mrs Southill. However, whilst she has finally got her wish of being a witch, things aren’t working out as well as she planned and she is learning more about what not to do, rather than being a proper witch that helps people.
In the midst of this, she keeps having ‘funny turns’ in which she can see the future. 
The book really kicks off when a Hurricane crashes into the local garage and she has to save three German children and a young German man called Klaus from a crashed car, though these are children who have been saved by the KinderTransport (the organised rescue effort during World War Two to rehome Jewish children) and sent to stay with the local Lord and Lady Aston
It is when she meets the children and Klaus that her visions really start to become more of a problem as she starts to have visions of death and murder. 
Not only that, Faye has to deal with a problem much closer to home – Boyfriends!
In Babes in the Wood, Mark Stay changes the focus of the book to focus more on the war in this book and the residents of Woodville realise that the war is closer to home than they think, what with the Battle of Britain raging in the skies overhead and the injured soldiers being housed at the local Manor House.
In addition to that there is the actual effects that the war is having on other people, particularly with the introduction of the three Jewish children. 
I couldn’t fail to be impressed with Babes in The Wood and the Witches of Woodville as a whole. Mark Stay deftly interplays light and dark whilst keeping the comedic element to his book. He will skilfully interject moments of comedy with some pretty dark horror elements, and they will creep up on you without notice. 
As I said, the tone of this book is a little different from the first one but it continues to maintain its allure. Babes in The Wood at times plays like a cosy murder mystery set in the quintessential English countryside village that never was, but then it becomes more of a spy thriller and then something that’s akin to a Denis Wheatley novel, whilst falling on classic sci-fi/horror like The Midwich Cuckoos (which is referenced quite nicely in the village fair scene).
In addition to this, Mark Stay will carefully interject some quite weighty subjects like anti-Semitism, classism and prejudice whilst masking it with a rose-tinted comedy lens.
Again, all the characters are brilliantly realised (and heightened to just this side of parody), and Faye is her usual gobby and irreverent self, reminding me of Emily Lloyd in the film Wish You Were Here. Especially when she cries ‘Up Yer Bum!’ several times in the story. Furthermore, the village gets expanded somewhat and we get the introduction of new characters, such as Dougie Allen, the car mechanic from Glasgow who talks to his cars.
If you haven’t read The Witches of Woodville series, I highly recommend it. Yes, it is very light, but it is just so much fun. It is filled with brilliant characters and is a wonderful breath of fresh air. But don’t be deceived, whilst it might seem all jolly hockey sticks and full of jinks and japes, it has that nice touch of weirdly dark stuff happening just under the hood.
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It is great to meet up with Faye again, as I loved her in The Crow Folk.. I love this girl; she's feisty, but soft-hearted, very determined and an outstanding role model for young women everywhere. She comes out younger in my head than the 17 she is in the book, so more like Tiffany Aching's 15 in my head. And she reminds me greatly of Tiffany, in a good way. The whole book pays homage to Sir Terry, I think, 
Excellent read for young people as well as adults. 
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It was so good to be back with Faye and the rest of the Woodville folk.

The story follows on from the first book and Faye is clearly one who problems follow.

I did miss ‘Pumpkinhead’ and the other Crow Folk, but this book also had some great characters, I adored the children and Faye’s relationship. It was also good to catch up with characters from the first book.

Again, the authors writing style really enables you to visualise what is going on, I completely ‘saw’ the hidden room (the part with the radio cracked me up!!)

I love the mix of history and fantasy and am excited for the rest of the series.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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What an absolutely great book. Join Faye as she once again fights for what is right and learns witchcraft.  The author has that great talent of transporting you back in time and before you know it you are living the adventure with Faye. A great romp.
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I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Stay’s 'The Crow Folk' so was looking forward to reading the next book in 'The Witches of Woodville' series – 'Babes in the Wood'. My expectations were surpassed as the series, set in World War Two, is intelligently written, with humour and compassion – traits shared with the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett – and I do not make the comparison lightly. Compassionate writing matters to me. I have no illusions about humanity, with its complexity, cruelty and contradictions, and neither does Mark Stay, but his motley cast of characters are rounded creations, shown in all their infuriating, contradictory glory. They are offered, not judged. 

There is much that is real – much that is dark. Jewish children fleeing the Nazis, ending up in a village in Kent by way of the Kindertransport, having lost everything. The horrors of Kristallnacht.  Dashing, brave young pilots drinking in the pub before and after dogfights in the air – well, ‘after’ if they made it home. Mark Stay does not flinch from the horrors of war but neither does he labour his points. There is a lightness of touch which is more effective than a heavy hand. This is also true when his subject is awakening (or woken) sexuality. He does not patronise his readers.

'Babes in the Wood 'is grounded in local rivalries; people running their businesses and that of their neighbours, given half a chance; bigotry; courage; kindness; secrets; lies. High Art. Murder. All set against a backdrop of a war which has silenced the bells, raised suspicions, generated heartbreak, fear and loss. A recognisable reality. And with the reality – magic. 

Young witch Faye Bright is a beautifully delineated character. (Memo to self: writer Peter Benson never refers to those inhabiting his books as ‘characters.’ They are always ‘people’.) Faye has inherited her late mother’s talent for magic and her kind, wise father’s common sense and down-to-earth wisdom. Under the tutelage of Philomena Teach and Charlotte Southill Faye grows into her abilities – sometimes out-stripping her teachers and learning how to walk in her mother’s footsteps. All that and hormones as well. She is, after all, only seventeen and longs to be trusted with the deep secrets needed to deal with the dark, destructive magic of arch-villain Otto Kopp – master of moon-magic – and his arrogant, privileged sidekick, Harry.

When the Jewish children arrive in Woodville, the reception from the villagers is hostile. The children speak German so they must be the enemy. The villagers’ mob mentality is ugly, but whereas crowds are often stupid and dangerous, away from the mob, people can be good and with wise leadership demonstrate humanity. (Don’t get me started on poor leadership.) Sometimes Faye knows how to guide people to their better selves (no wonder good, kind Bertie is sweet on her – another adolescent minefield) but the mob is never far away. It is not such a stretch, then, for a group of people who can bay at frightened children to become golem-like and terrifying when controlled by Kopp’s malevolent magic. It is not a stretch when Harry’s entitled arrogance transforms into something much worse. 

Mark Stay’s gift is to weave together magic and reality, creating exciting, compelling stories peppered with real people in familiar locations with understandable emotions facing extraordinary challenges –whether inside or outside the standing stones. Book Three cannot arrive fast enough.
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Having read the first Witches of Woodville book I was very much looking forward to catching up with apprentice witch, Faye Bright and her witchy tutors Mrs Teach and Miss Charlotte in the second of the series, and it was certainly worth the wait. Babes in the Wood has all the pace and sparkle of the Crow Folk and Faye is as chippy and out-spoken as ever. The wartime atmosphere is perfectly captured, and although there are some very serious things happening alongside the magical elements of the story Mark Stay has done his research and  handles these with care. It would be hard to say too much more without spoiling things. It's quirky, it's pacy, it'll make you laugh, it may make you cry. In other words it's a magical read.
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Funny, atmospheric and a tiny bit scary. Perfect Halloween reading.

I enjoyed the first book in the series, so when this one popped up on Netgalley, I requested it immediately.
It's the 1940s, there's a war on. It's about a year since the events of The Crow Folk and most people seem to have forgotten about it. Faye is now a proper witch-in-training. When a plane crashes into the petrol garage, Faye rescues a group of German Jewish children on the Kindertransport. When she touches one of them, she sees his death. She decides she was going to try to stop it, whatever it takes.
There's German magicians, spies, a murder and a scary painting that glows. This book is a great adventure that barrels along at a pace. It's funny and realistic. There's definitely something of Tiffany Aching about the very sensible Faye.
I read this book in a day. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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I was so happy to return to the quirky village of Woodville after loving The Crow Folk last year.

WW2 continues to rage across Europe with dogfights overhead a frequent reminder for the villagers that danger isn't far away.
After 4 kindertransport children arrive in the village (introduced in dramatic style) we are introduced to the occupants of the local big house who are, of course, more than they seem.
Faye, now officially a trainee witch, keeps having disturbing visions and fears for the safety of the refugee children. Can she solve the mystery of the glowing painting, a strange tree & how the nazis are involved?

Once again, the atmosphere and setting are brilliant and absorbing. Like cosy crime but stranger, folksier and magical.
Faye continues to be an engaging character: determined, kind, no-nonsense. And although I did miss the focus on the village, the story expands the magical world - introducing the idea of magical warfare and the treats that may pose to everyone.

I can't wait for more Woodville adventures.
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Babes in the Wood is another smashing read from Mark Stay. The Witches of Woodville series goes from strength to strength with this rollicking, action-packed sequel to The Crow Folk. Stay seems to take genuine delight at throwing trouble at Faye, her fellow witches and Woodville neighbours, but he does it with wonderful humour and the warmest, cosiest writing. Loved it.
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I enjoyed this book it was dark yet hopeful, creepy yet endearing and I loved it. Well written and I loved the historical element mixing with fantasy.
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