Weyward – Emilia Hart

Published By: HarperCollins
Pages: 384
Released On: 02/02/2023

Kate, 2019
Kate flees London – abandoning everything – for Cumbria and Weyward Cottage, inherited from her great-aunt. There, a secret lurks in the bones of the house, hidden ever since the witch-hunts of the 17th century.

Violet, 1942
Violet is more interested in collecting insects and climbing trees than in becoming a proper young lady. Until a chain of shocking events changes her life forever.

Altha, 1619
Altha is on trial for witchcraft, accused of killing a local man. Known for her uncanny connection with nature and animals, she is a threat that must be eliminated.

But Weyward women belong to the wild. And they cannot be tamed…

Weaving together the stories of three women across five centuries, Weyward is an enthralling novel of female resilience and the transformative power of the natural world.

*****

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

**Contains slight thematic spoilers**

This is definitely one of the most eagerly anticipated fiction books of 2023! It was powerful from the off and I was hooked. I was finding myself falling in love with each of the main women.

It’s been a while since I was completely absorbed in a book like this one. I read it in one sitting as I just couldn’t tear myself away. I was sobbing by the end, in sadness and happiness. I won’t give too much away as to the plot, but it’s a whopper of an emotional read.

I’ve struggled with historical fiction in the past and I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t gel with the older stories, but they felt as natural and identifiable as the modern one. You just felt at home in all periods.

I often find multi-timeline books confusing. This one has three: Altha in 1619, Violet in 1942, and Kate in 2019, but they are all so well written and split that it’s clear right from the off whose life we’re reading at any given time. Each main female character has their own distinctive characteristics but you can still see the link between the three. I love how powerful the three women are. Not just in the literal sense, but in their hopes and their dreams. Each story is given equal time and attention, each written perfectly for the time period, for the characters of the time, and they all sit so well together.

Normally fiction books tend to be plot heavy or character focussed. Very few, in my opinion, equally cover both. But this does. Each of the time periods contains an exhilarating storyline with the women so beautifully described, in looks and manner, it’s stunning.

The stories aren’t necessarily happy, in fact, some of them are very hard to read indeed, and yet they still project a sense of love and hope. Hope in themselves, in the world, and in the future.

Yes there is a witchcraft element to the book, but for me it came second to the stories of their relationships and their friendships. It just so happens to have a magical backdrop. But I was so sucked in to them as characters that I couldn’t be distracted by anything else.

It is a serious book with serious topics – including domestic violence, pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, childbirth, death, murder, rape – but it is still a complete and utter joy to read. Even when they are in their darkest places, it still radiates hope.

It’s a love story, but not necessarily a romantic one. Not necessarily one between a man and a woman, or a man and a man, or a woman and a well. It’s love for nature, for the world, for your kin, for yourself, for the past and the future, for your ancestors and your descendants, for animals, and for the power you hold.

I can’t wait to share it with my girl friends. It is such a powerful and important book. I had to wait before I started a new book. Normally I can go from finishing one book to starting another fairly instantly, but this was just so amazing and so powerful that I just couldn’t clear my mind enough to start another I think it’s going to stay with me for a long time.

And it’s a debut! What power this book has, what precision and finesse. Absolutely gorgeous in it’s brutality and it’s hope. I already know Emilia Hart is going to be such a force of nature in the writing world and I can wait to join her on this ride. I just hope I get the chance to absorb every word she writes.

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