Reader Reviewed The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull

The Hawkweed Prophecy

Written by Irena Brignull

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

July 2016 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Old world witches * Potent prophecy * Firm friendship

Fairytale witch-magic melds with the modern world in this captivating debut. A spell is cast when two babies are born as the clock strikes twelve and their lives are switched “in the blink of an eye as magic does”. And so a witch, Charlock Hawkweed, gives birth to a daughter, Ember, after long being “cursed with boys” which means that either she or her sister, Raven, will be mother of the witch queen, in accordance with the Hawkweed prophecy. But beautiful Ember is deemed a “pitiful excuse for a witch” and the coven expects that Raven’s daughter will one day be crowned queen.

A world away, teenager Poppy is about to start her eleventh school after a succession of expulsions. “Something always went wrong,” we learn. “Either intentionally or by accident”. Her depressed mum insists that it's not Poppy's fault. “It's the devil in you,” she says. Then, when Poppy follows a hare into a dell, two worlds entwine when she meets Ember. They instantly become friends, and it’s not long before Poppy realises who – and what - she really is… As the girls struggle to find their way, linked both by their friendship and their love for the same handsome boy, the time of the prophecy looms ever closer.

At heart, this is an entrancing, emotionally-charged book about growing up and forming deep bonds of friendship. Younger YA readers with a penchant for the paranormal will be spellbound. ~ Joanne Owen

Reader Reviews

Teens love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Rebekah Marsh, age 13 - 'The Hawkweed Prophecy was honestly the perfect book for me, it mixed a fantasy world with simple friendship problems - this mix created the perfect plot line, leaving me to not put it down for days.'
  • Kyra Morris, age 17 - 'The Hawkweed Prophecy was a bewitching read - one that charmed me with its delectable writing, beautifully flawed characters and magical story line. It left me spellbound.'
  • Natalie Hunter, age 14 - 'This was a good book with a wonderfully unique storyline. The characters in this were all adorable, particularly Ember, although I often wanted to shout at them through the pages.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This was like a fairy tale and modern story in one.... I recommend this to all YA fans who like their fiction with a bit of mysticism.'
  • Humaira Kauser, age 18 -'Intriguing. Exciting and utterly captivating! A world I would want to visit!'
  • Eloise Mae Clarkson, age 14 - 'I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.' 
  • Megan West, age 15 - 'An exciting, refreshing and imaginative read. Very enjoyable.'
  • Phoebe Doherty- Ozobiane age 14 - 'The creepy, otherworldly feel of this book would grab anyone with a love for darkish fantasy and I would gladly give this book a ? stars maybe even 4.5/5 stars.'


The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull

The babies were born as the clock struck twelve. A bat fell from the air mid-flight. A silver salmon floated dead to the surface of the river. Snails withered in their shells, moths turned to dust on the night breeze and an owl ate its young. The spell had been cast. Poppy Hooper has managed to deceive her father into believing that there is nothing mysterious or unnatural about her. He ignores the cats that find her wherever she goes, the spiders that weave beautiful lacy patterns for her, even her eyes - one blue, one green with an extra black dot orbiting the pupil. Ember Hawkweed is a pitiful excuse for a witch. When the other girls in her coven brew vile potions, Ember makes soap and perfume. Fair and pretty, Ember is more like a chaff than a witch. One of the Hawkweeds will be queen of the witches - but everyone knows it won't be Ember. When the two girls meet, Poppy discovers her powers, and finds out the truth. Bound by their unlikely friendship and the boy they both love, the girls try and find their place in the world. But the time of the prophecy draws nearer - and the witches won't give up the throne without a fight.


Strong characters, complex relationships, and important themes of family, belonging, identity, love and loneliness, drive this absorbing story of magic and painful family secrets Book Trust Brignull's The Hawkweed Prophecy is a deft exploration of friendship, sacrifice and betrayal. I can't decide who I love more, the sweet and trusting Ember or the spunky, dark Poppy. You can't help but cheer for both girls, and ache when they are pitted against one another. I was completely absorbed in the sinister, complicated world of magic and witches. The coven is described so confidently and beautifully, it's hard to emerge from the novel without wondering if these women are operating somewhere just below the surface of our world. Full of romance, heart and suspense, readers will find themselves staying up all night just to spend a little more time with Ember and Poppy. Madeleine Roux, author of the New York Times bestseller Asylum The Hawkweed Prophecy was bewitching from the get-go. Irena Brignull does an amazing job weaving a tale of pure magic in this debut novel. She'll have you on a roller coaster of emotions from the very first page. Get ready to be spellbound. Paige McKenzie, author of the New York Times bestselling Haunting of Sunshine Girl series Wildly delightful Laini Taylor, author of The Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy I loved this book! Irena has created such beautifully complete world--our world, and nestled within it, a simmering world of magic. The Hawkweed Prophecy has everything: friendship, desire, delicious earthy magic, secrets and spells and at its center, the wonderful young Poppy, on a journey of self-discovery. I so hope there is more to come! Karen Foxlee, author of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and A Most Magical Girl Irena Brignull's THE HAWKWEED PROPHECY is a book of wicked, beautiful magic. Compulsively readable and delightfully gritty, one does not mess with these Hawkweed witches. Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood and Three Dark Crowns Isolation and loneliness are terrible things to have in common. Poppy has moved from school to school, her poor mother institutionalized. Ember, a witch with no magic, is picked on and shunned in her coven. When they accidentally meet in a junk filled glen, both girls realize a fascination with the other's world. Poppy is driven to the magic, and the power, while Ember wants to know about conveniences and boys. A homeless boy named Leo seeks comfort and acceptance. A cat named Minx wants to save Poppy. Despite early plot revelations, the story grabs you. All three characters are in untenable situations, not knowing who to trust. All three will have to make decisions that will change the course of their lives. Fantasy with a real world touch! Margaret Neville, Bookseller, The King's English Bookshop I couldn't put The Hawkweed Prophecy down. It was captivating and devastating and full of the reading magic that changes the way you feel about the next book you pick up. What a great story - I immediately made a list of the people I'll share it with as soon as it is available! Thanks for giving me a chance to read it in advance - I can't wait to talk about it! Rene Kirkpatrick, Bookseller, Eagle Harbor Book Company The Hawkweed Prophecy is awesome! The writing is excellent and the characters are so lovable Kelsy April, Children's Book Buyer, Mystic Books Inc. Wise, weird, a touch evil and totally charming, Irena Brignull's tale of magic in our time is as rich and complicated as sisterhood. From the first page, I felt drawn into a modern classic. Anna Godbersen, author of The Luxe and Bright Young Things series I loved the friendship between Ember and Poppy, it's always wonderful seeing positive, strong female friendships. Blog of a Book-A-Holic At heart, this is an entrancing, emotionally-charged book about growing up and forming deep bonds of friendship. Younger YA readers with a penchant for the paranormal will be spellbound. Lovereading4kids This was like a fairy tale and modern story in one... I recommend this to all YA fans who like their fiction with a bit of mysticism. Edel Waugh It's a fantasy with the air of a classic, yet one that's also entirely contemporary in its tight focus on identity, friendship, and romance Publisher's Weekly Strong characters, complex relationships, and important themes of family, belonging, identity, love and loneliness, drive this absorbing story of magic and painful family secrets Book Trust

About the Author

Irena Brignull is a successful screenwriter. Since working on the screenplay of The Boxtrolls, Irena has been writing an adaptation of The Little Prince directed by Mark Osborne and starring Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard. Previously, Irena was a Script Executive at the BBC and then Head of Development at Dogstar Films where she was the script editor on Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Bravo Two Zero to name a few. Irena holds a BA in English Literature from Oxford University. The Hawkweed Prophecy is her first novel.

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Book Info


432 pages
Interest Age: From 12


Irena Brignull
More books by Irena Brignull

Author's Website


Orchard Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group

Publication date

16th June 2016




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