Cover Image: Babes in the Wood

Babes in the Wood

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Member Reviews

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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After reading and enjoying the first book in this series, “The Crow Folk”, in order to get up to speed, I got stuck into “Babes in the Wood” as soon as possible. 
Definitely a slow-burn, but none the worse for it, with intense world-building and scene-setting. Almost without realising it the book ratchets up the tension and becomes unputdownable.  
Main character, Faye, is becoming a notable heroine in fiction, and this time around she has to look after three refugees whilst protecting them from evil forces, and not just the Nazis. The story is deep and fulfilling. 
I can heartily recommend “Babes in the Wood” to fantasy fans, especially to readers of Alan Garner’s work and those who enjoy the “Miss Peregrine” books. Mark Stay has skilfully created a heady mix of magic and World War II and I look forward to the next instalment.
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A little slow to get into at the beginning, but I persevered, knowing  that I was impatient, and was rewarded with a page turner before too long,that had me gripped until I finished the book. Faye is a brilliant character, and so are all of the characters, in this story set in the second world war, of magical things interwoven with some of the events of that war. I will not say too much, in case I spoil the novel for the reader, but the characters are very realistic, and the plot excellent. I would recommend this book.
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