Bookshelf spotlight: Witches of Eileanan

This next series, in Fantasy Friday’s bookshelf spotlight, I know exactly which year I started. I know this as it was recommended by a friend and I picked it up without realising that it had just come out and I had just, yet again, started a series that I was going to have to wait to be completed. Of course, I found that out after reading book one and going to get book two. Only to discover it didn’t exist yet. I also had no idea how many books were in the series. Six. That’s how many. Thankfully, they didn’t end up having massive gaps between them like some of my other series.

The Witches of Eileanan (books 1-6) by Kate Forsyth

It’s been an incredibly long time since I last read this series, so my memory is somewhat shaky. But the basic premise is that Eileanan is a world where Scottish witches escaped to during the persecution of witches in our world a long time in the past. They settled in this world that had a lot of other species (selkies, wood sprites, dragons, etc). In the more recent past a woman has seduced a king to gain power, his son disappeared, and all magic has been outlawed. I think the original races are also being persecuted. In an isolated area, Isabeau, a foundling, has been raised by Meghan, a wood witch, something triggers all of the rest of the events, which you might have some idea of the ultimate outcome goal, but there are a whole lot of other things thrown in. Hardships, persecution, interesting characters, and so much more that I’m trying not to hint about so that I don’t introduce any spoilers.

Because I’m trying not to tell you too much about the series, I’m going to share the blurb from book one.

Meghan looked directly into the dragon’s topaz eyes for the first time… She had a sensation of time rolling away, vast vistas of years, the swing of planets and stars. Sunsets bloomed above her head, clouds raced away, the world spun on its axis and the dragon’s eyes glittered cold…

Since the Day of Reckoning witches and magic have been outlawed on Eileanan. The great towers, once centres of learning, are now abandoned ruins. The penalty for practising witchcraft is death.

In a hidden valley deep in the mountains, in the shadow of the peak of Dragonclaw, Isabeau the Foundling grows to womanhood in the care of Meghan, an old wood witch. But Isabeau’s destiny lies outside the valley: she must set out on a perilous quest carrying the last hopes of the persecuted witches.

Meanwhile the sea-dwelling Fairgean stir, children vanish in the night, and Isabeau’s guardian climbs Dragonclaw to seek guidance from the most ancient and dangerous wisdom in the land.

It can take a little bit of getting used to when you first start reading this series, as the dialogue is written with a Scottish accent. It doesn’t take long to get used to it though, and I didn’t find it distracted me from the story at all. Given some of what happens to Isabeau, she understandably feels resentment at times, and can get stuck on the feeling of the unfairness of life. There is some of this sprinkled through the series. Along with some “what if”. To me, that added realism into the story and it was never done to a degree that I found it annoying and was tempted to put the book down.

I think I have read this series twice. And I know I will read it again. So that is suggestion enough that I would recommend it to others.


  1. Hi Nic. I, too, have read this series twice 😊 but I had inadvertently started with the series Rhiannon’s Ride only to discover the Witches of Eileanan was the beginning of the story. Although Rhiannon’s Ride provided a bit of escapism, I loved the Witches of Eileanan.


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