Source: DRC via NetGalley (St. Martin’s Press) in exchange for an honest review
Publication Date: March 7, 2023
Synopsis: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

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Why did I choose to read this book?

This book kept popping up in “most anticipated” lists, plus I always enjoy a story about women using their magic to escape oppression/abuse.

What is this book about?

This book is about generations of women who have survived abuse embraced their connection with nature as a weapon against those who would harm them or their children. It is a magical story, and the women of the Weyward line would be considered witches in the traditional sense. In this book their magic manifests through their connection to animals and insects.

What is notable about this story?

I am so used to magic being about the elements or about special powers (mind reading, flying, etc) that it was interesting to read a book that involved animals to this degree. The herbs and poultices that the Weyward women used were things anyone could use, but their ability to talk to and command animals seemed fresh and new to me. I wish I had been able to read more of this before I had to stop.

Was anything not so great?

I made it to the 50% mark in this book before I had to stop. Prior to this point the rape and abuse was described briefly and in the past tense. At the midway mark there is a drugged rape scene involving the middle Weyward woman Violet (Kate’s great-aunt) when she was 16 years old that was so detailed in its description that I could not read past it. Nothing in the second half of the book could possibly be worth having to read through that scene, and I already knew that eventually the present day Weyward woman (Kate) would have to fend off her abusive boyfriend Simon somehow. This rape scene was just the beginning of things getting worse and…I’m sorry but I just don’t have the stomach for it. If you are a victim of physical or verbal abuse in your relationships or have ever been the victim of sexual abuse or rape specifically, consider this a trigger warning for this book. It’s a minefield.

What’s the verdict?

Three stars on Goodreads and a DNF from me. Emilia Hart is an excellent writer, I raced through this book until I hit the aforementioned brick wall and had to put it down. This book might be to your taste, and you should read other reviews to see if you’d like to give it a try. For me though, it’s just too much pain and I can’t shoulder any more, especially in my leisure activities. I’m sorry.