Babes In The Wood – The Witches of Woodville II by Mark Stay

July, 1940

In a quiet village in rural Kent, a magical mystery leads to murder . . .

Woodville has returned to ‘normal’ after the departure of the Crow Folk. The villagers put out fires from aircraft shot down in the Battle of Britain, and Faye Bright discovers that magic can be just as dangerous as any weapon.

The arrival of a trio of Jewish children fleeing the Nazis brings the fight for Europe to the village. When their guardian is found dead, Faye must play nanny to the terrified children while gathering clues to uncover a dark magic that threatens to change the course of the war. And she must do it quickly – the children have seen too much and someone wants them silenced for good.

For fans of Lev Grossman and Terry Pratchett comes the second novel in this delightful trilogy of war, mystery and a little bit of magic . . .


As a child, when life was less complicated, I could loose myself for hours in a story, totally immersed in the world the writer created and as an adult I am continuously looking for books that take me back to that time. Babes In The Wood by Mark Stay does exactly that, it’s magical, full of history and folklore. There are witches, evil wizards, danger, spies and battles on the home front, as war rages across Europe. Perfection in book form.

All the elements of a story I loved as a child, are here in Babes In The Wood. It is jammed packed full of adventure from page one. It is July 1940 and Hitler’s Germany considers invading Britain, the home front is under attack from the Luftwaffe, danger stalks the villagers of Woodville and some of it, is the magical kind. Now, that is an opening to excite any reader and the sense of danger and adventure never lets up.

I love how he brings quite serious issues into the narrative without losing the momentum he is building up, the flight of three Jewish children from the dangers of Nazis Germany, to the safer shores of rural England, but sadly Woodville is anything but safe for them or the locals. He doesn’t shy away from the horror they faced, but tells it in a way that pulls at the heart without overwhelming the younger reader. Mark Stay says just enough, weaving it in and out of the story, using it as a narrative tool to add heightened danger and a impeding sense of doom. He mixes this up with how much the threat of invasion ramped up tensions during the war, creating mistrust towards anyone from outside a community towards strangers, especially if they are German to absorb the reader in the the anxieties that riddled the nation during the conflict. From this he weaves a story in which Faye and the locals wages a battle against Hitler’s forces to secure a weapon that could lead to the Nazi leader achieving world domination. As a reader you simply can’t turn away and as an adult, I was as excited by this story as I had been by much loved adventure stories read as a child.

Babes in the Wood is the follow-up to The Crow Folk and many of the characters carry over into this new adventure. Reading with a younger bookworm in the family a few days ago, I was reminded of how exciting it felt when you realized as a child that your favorite character was going on a new adventure. To create this feeling of genuine wonder and excitement, you need a personality that readers really love. Watching the little person buzzing with joy that her favorite had not one new story on the bookshelf, but two, affected us all and Faye is that character within the Witches of Woodville books. She matures into a brave and spikey heroine, happy to battle Hitler’s henchmen, put her life in danger for the greater good or act as the protector of three lonely, scared children. She rides motorbikes, runs towards danger and not away from it. She is fabulous and very much comes into her own in book two. This is why I loved it so much, combine a bit of fantasy, lots of magic as well as history with a perfect character and you have a sure fire winner and Babes In The Wood is definitely that book.

You can purchase Babes In The Wood – The Witches Of Woodville Part II by Mark Stay from Amazon, Waterstones and all good independent bookshops.

About the author

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at

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