Sandy Beech doesn't believe in witches and the supernatural. However, certain strange events occur which put his scepticism to the test: a burning book, a falling crucifix, a mysterious illness, and a fire in a convent which kills all twelve nuns.
On her death bead, Bernadette, the last surviving nun, warns him to control his lusts and avoid African women. Sandy finds this difficult, since he is attracted to exotic, dark-skinned women and after his hedonistic university exchange year in Paris, marries Rocky from the Ivory Coast.
Five years later, childless and with the marriage souring, they decide to visit Rocky's home country. Sandy is drawn into a world of strange beliefs and practices: he finds out about the Witch's List - a list of people destined to die, and is attacked by various animals starting with a ferocious dog in Abidjan. He delves further and further into the realm of African witchcraft, but the horrific truth remains obscure...
The Witch's List is the first of a trilogy.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Sandy Beech is a good Scottish, catholic boy who doesn't believe in black magic, witches or anything involving the supernatural. He is quite sure there is a logical explanation for everything but, is he right?
Sandy is drawn to dark skinned women, especially those from Africa. His first girlfriend Gabriella is from Kenya but their relationship doesn't last, due to family pressure, on Gabriella's side and what they see as cultural differences. Although he is warned by a mysterious dying nun to stay away from African women, Sandy isn't able to get over Gabriella for a long time. Eventually he finds her replacement in France where he is an Erasmus exchange student. Roquelle or “Rocky” for short is from the Ivory Coast and she has all the exotic characteristics Sandy is looking for. After an initially peaceful marriage things take a turn for the worse when the pair aren't able to conceive a child. Sandy hopes a visit to the Ivory Coast and Rocky's ancestral village will get their relationship back on track but what he finds might surprise everyone. The Witch's list may draw him into a world he is not sure really exists.
Initially, I was drawn to this book by the terrific cover and I'm happy to say that the book as a whole did not let me down. It was engaging and well written. Having studied in a Scottish University and having done some research in West Africa both parts of this story appealed to me. The descriptions were captivating and the characters were well portrayed. Throughout the story I felt like I was right there with Sandy in the middle of the action, peering over his shoulder. I'm happy to see from the back cover of the book that this is the first of a trilogy. I can't wait to read more.
~ Susan Miller, httpsusannesbooklist.blogspot.com
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Full Text: Sandy Beech doesn't believe in witches and the supernatural. However, certain strange events occur which put his skepticism to the test: a burning book, a falling crucifix, a mysterious illness, and a fire in a convent which kills all twelve nuns. On her death bead, Bernadette, the last surviving nun, warns him to control his lusts and avoid African women. Sandy finds this difficult, since he is attracted to exotic, dark-skinned women and after his hedonistic university exchange year in Paris, marries Rocky from the Ivory Coast. Five years later, childless and with the marriage souring, they decide to visit Rocky's home country. Sandy is drawn into a world of strange beliefs and practices: he finds out about the Witch's List - a list of people destined to die, and is attacked by various animals starting with a ferocious dog in Abidjan. He delves further and further into the realm of African witchcraft, but the horrific truth remains obscure... The Witch's List is the first of a trilogy. The description of the book and the cover hooked me when I was asked to read and review this book. "Once you're on the Witch's List, you are as good as dead." That was the best hook for me! Sandy is living and going to school as a normal Scottish lad. Not so popular, but good at hiding from the bullies. This is where he discovers an old book about witches and black magic. He and his friend are really more interested in the sexy pictures but one day decide to test the book against the Bible. When the book catches fire, Sandy is not quite sure what to think. As he goes off to school in France, he falls hard for a beautiful African girl. Even though he has been warned by the nun, Bernadette and others to stay far away from African women, he just can't. He falls in love and marries what he thinks is the love of his life. Until a trip back to the Ivory Coast to visit her relatives. From here things took a strange turn and I am really glad to hear this is a trilogy as I had a lot more questions! One of the things I liked best about Mr. Cairn's writing was the use of the every day Scottish language. Sandy and his friends talk exactly the way they would in their part of the world and I enjoyed that. What a really good book for us history buffs too. We wait impatiently for the next one! ~ Patricia Romero, NetGalley - Goodreads
I didn't need to finish the book to know I had become a fan of Andrew Cairns. It is one of those stories that crawl under your skin and would stay there for ages, lasting and cruel, because you'll always recall reading; their words will always be a whisper in the back of you mind, a whisper, a caress of the soul.
The story unfolds at a steady pace, with the threat of dark outcomes never far away. It is Hemingway reborn - with a tongue so sweet it almost kills you, it is pacy and the language hugs you like a cosy blanket on a rainy day.
What fascinated me the most was the way the novel started off as an average story and slowly uncovered its fantasy for me. Slowly crawling on the verge of sanity until you are completely sunk in its world of magic. Highly engaging it is a read that I will definitely advise people to read. It's the kind of book where you don't realise how much you've read until your eyes begin to hurt, filled with suspense, intrigue, and chills. An intriguing premise that doesn't fall short! ~ Quidnunc Girl , NetGalley - Quidnunc Blog
This is the first book of a trilogy and I found it to be interesting. This book explores the life of Sandy Beech from a young lad through early life. Sandy is not a believer in witch's, witchcraft, or black magic; he believes there si a logical explanation for everything. Sandy begins to witness events certain events that start creating doubts in his mind such as a burning book, a crucifix falling off the wall and a illness with no spcific cause.
Sandy knows her prefers African woman over any other, he finds their dark skin color to be the most beautiful and alluring above all others. Sandy is warned by a nun who was terribly burned not to give into his lusts and to stay away from African women. This is something he tries to do but he soon meets and falls in love with Rocky. They move in together and eventually marry. It isn't until Sandy and Rocky visit her family on the Ivory Coast that Sandy learns about "The Witch's List" and how people get on to it. Sandy also has several unexplained happenings while in Africa. Sandy's new friends and in-laws try to explain more about the dark magic that happens in Africa and what being on "The Witch's List" means.
The more I think about this book, the more I like it. The author has taken great care to lay out the ground work for the next two books in the series. I honestly was going to stop reading this book several times becuase it moved a little slow in certain parts and didn't seem like anything was happening to move the story along. I am glad I finished, it's worth the journey.
I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series, I can't wait to read what happens next!
ALSO POSTED TO AMAZON AND GOODREADS ~ NetGalley, https://kluvsbooks.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/review-the-witchs-list-by-andrew-cairns/
This book could've easily been a 5 and just as easily been a 2. But for reasons explained below. It teeters at a not so satisfactory 3.
I loved the blurb and mystical cover of the book, and I just had to request an ARC. Luckily I got it.
So our story begins in beautiful Scotland with young Mr Sandy Beech who is into dark women, this leads him for a short but weirdly ending relationship with a Kenyan student Gabriella--who's cousin is apparently performing black magic on Sandy. Starts off great and Cairns ability to write about regular growing up with booze, kebabs, women and sex are quite fantastic and breezy.
So we're happily along the ride while several women come and go in Sandy's life. Until he meets Rocky, a hot Ivory Coastian who becomes his wife. 4 years after their marriage, they're still not able to produce a child. So a trip to Ivory Coast is on the cards to try and rekindle the flames.
We're about 40% of the book in, it's still breezy and immensely readable. But the foreshadowing is getting a little antsy. You understand Rocky's off, but how, you can't tell.
Then we go to a rather descriptive and perhaps deeply personal adventure of Ivory Coast. Not kidding, this could end up in a Lonely Planet and be great in it. But we've precious little about witches. It's always there in the background, but like a speck or star.
Eventually the big reveal is little over a page long and comes right at the end. A little yeah saw that coming, but blergh don't care about it because the book is entirely foreshadowing and with little to no end game.
This book could've been about Sandy's time with women and probably notched a 3.5 star rating. But as a mystical, horror, black magic based book. It falls woefully short.
Yet, the pacing is amazing. Even the most inane things in Sandy's life are made readable and interesting. It's a definite page turner and Cairns deserves trumps for it. Its just not the book the blurb makes it out to be.
While it is the first of a trilogy, it's a little cheap to use the first edition as pure setup, i would've expected a lot more. But might just end up giving the second one a shot.
I do look forward to Andrew Cairns' future work. ~ Subhash Dawda, NetGalley - posted to Goodreads Review at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1664526676
This is a very interesting story. The progression of the story is what caught my story. We follow Sandy from childhood in Scotland at a Catholic school to his first love to college, heartbreak, and more. African witch magic follows him and he doesn't know it. This is his story and experiences finding out about The Witch's List. It's a scary idea. The scariest idea is if The Witch's List was in a grander scale. I just feel really bad for Sandy.
I love reading about his youthful days and party days in Scotland. It was so much fun to see the connections of such familiar names like Gregor and Shanks (Shanksy). It reminds me of the late 90s and early 2000s in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Stirling.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and found it an interesting ride.
email@example.com ~ Rachel, NetGalley
That old black magic! I was captivated from the beginning. It combines multiple genres very well. A great story. ~ Rachelle, NetGalley
Review Rating:4 stars.
“Once you’re on the witch’s list, you’re as good as dead.” Andrew Cairns' novel, The Witch’s List, is a beguiling supernatural novel that follows Sandy Beech through childhood into his adult years. His attraction to exotic black women lures him into the dark world of witchcraft. Peculiar things happen when his girlfriend’s cousin casts a spell and he becomes ill. Sandy ignores the warning of a dying nun and marries Rocky, another woman from the Ivory Coast. They visit her homeland where Sandy learns about the nonconforming culture and witchcraft. He observes how a few people suddenly become ill, and the superstitious reactions of others who believe the sick were on the witch’s list. Sandy meets a strange old woman in the woods who warns him of danger, but the horrific truth remains obscure.
Andrew Cairns writes convincingly and The Witch’s List is a compelling dark story. Its protagonist, Sandy Beech, brings out his conflicting emotions through flowing narration. Although he is a nice person in general, Sandy’s character is weak, especially around women, and he can be manipulated into doing things he knows are wrong. The author’s writing is very detailed. I liked learning about the cultural differences that divide the Ivory Coast, as well as its intriguing black magic that still plays a dominant role in many Ivorian lives. I think the book’s cover is so appealing and appropriate. The Witch’s List by Andrew Cairns is an interesting story. ~ Michelle Stanley, Readers’ Favorite
Andrew Cairns has written, quite literally, a bewitching novel, one that speaks to an underbelly which lies dormant in us all. The Witch's List bridges our world of convention, with that of a fabulous Twilight Zone, what may be true reality -- a realm of magic and ultimate possibility. I recommend this book because, behind the smokescreen of simplicity, there lies a masked bedrock of extraordinary power.
~ Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph's House
A highly entertaining account of a boy’s journey - both physical and emotional - from youth to manhood. From school-days, to university and into the workplace we follow our young protagonist, ‘Sandy’ as he strives to build a life for himself. Leaving his home in Dundee he gravitates south, to France and then West Africa, and the jarring cultural changes, which Sandy encounters, are brought to life authentically. The characters met along the way are fully developed and I formed an attachment to the young Scot that kept me gripped throughout, as the story builds towards a jaw-dropping conclusion.
~ Gregor Ewing, author of Charlie, Meg and Me and Bruce, Meg and Me
The Witch’s List is a book full of colours and darkness. It transports you into the turbulent world of Sandy Beech, a young man experiencing adulthood with spirit and curiosity. His attraction for exotic women will trap him into unsuspected adventures in Africa. Andrew Cairns has brought off a lively, captivating novel and a unique cultural experience for the reader.
~ Isabelle Richaud, author of Men in the Mirror
The Witch's List by Andrew Cairns is a real page turner. As soon as you start to follow the main character, a young bloke by the name of Sandy Beech, you want to know more about him and follow his path. It leads him from his Scottish home to a French university, and finally to Africa.
For a guy who favours exotic women, and who does not believe in witchcraft, it’s a dangerous way to go. Despite the warnings given by a dying nun, Sandy marries a beautiful black girl, Rocky, and, after a few years of faltering happiness, follows her to her home country, the Ivory Coast, in the hope of winning her back. There, he will witness strange events and be the victim of a series of physical assaults that will leave him deeply wounded, physically and mentally.
What’s really happened to him ? Does this black magic really exist ? In this coming of age novel, written with wit and great emotional precision, Andrew Cairns creates a strange mixture of mystery, humour, horror and passion. Through the eyes of a young European, The Witch's List also depicts the discovery of a strange continent, and it’s different set of rules and values.
A must-read, captivating and bewitching.
~ Jean-Christophe Manuceau, author of Cocteau Twins: Des Punks célestes' and 'L'homme sans parapluie