It’s not easy to live up to this cover. If I were the author, Emilia Hart, I’d have been both ecstatic and terrified when the publisher first showed me the art for this novel. I mean, look at it! And I’m going to raise your expectations even more. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel.
Set in England and taking place over five centuries, the stories of three Weyward family women are told through three parallel timelines. Altha in 1619 is a healer who is tried for witchcraft. In 1942, Violet is hidden away after exhibiting the “unusual” behaviors of communing with insects and birds. Kate, in 2019, escapes her abusive partner and hides in the village of Crows Beck in a cottage secretly left to her by her great aunt. Despite their gifts, all three women struggle under the yoke of patriarchy. This means a content warning is in order for readers who are sensitive to depictions of all of the various abuses of men against women. This story is dark, no doubt. Spoilers will follow if I write any more about the plot. It is, however, an immersive, often suspenseful read, and the author weaves all three timelines together seamlessly.
Multi-layered and nuanced, this novel may be a good choice for those who enjoy magical realism, nature, stories that take place in England, historical fiction centering on women–especially magical women, and people who love lush, atmospheric fiction.