Book Review: ‘Weyward: A Novel’ By Emilia Hart

Review by Lauryn Angel

I love a book with a beautiful cover, but sometimes the cover doesn’t accurately reflect the contents. I’ve bought many a pretty cover with a bland book inside. Thankfully, Emilia Hart’s Weyward is a great cover with a great book to boot!

Weyward is a multi-generational tale about three women in the accurately-named Weyward clan – Altha in 1619, Violet in 1942, and Kate in 2019. Each of the women is struggling with a form of male oppression. Altha awaits trial for murder-by-witchcraft of a local farmer; Violet is trapped by social conventions in an unfulfilling life, longing for the education her brother seemingly wastes; Kate is fleeing from an abusive relationship in London.

Kate flees to Weyward cottage, which she inherited from her great-aunt Violet, whom she barely knew. As she starts to find her place in the nearby village and build a life on her own, she discovers artifacts of her aunt’s life – and even further back – that suggest that there was something more to Violet. Added to this suspicion are the villagers’ whispers of witchcraft, and soon Violet is on a mission to find out more about her relative.

For the most part, the Weyward women would qualify as healers, but there is a touch of magical realism in this novel, as the women’s affinity with nature takes the form of a bond with insects (and a particular crow) that can only be attributed to a form of magic. Their magic is used to heal, for the most part, connecting them to nature and its balance of life and death.

I don’t always like multiple timeline/multiple narrative novels, but Hart gets the balance right here. Each of the women is a fully-developed character whose thoughts and deeds feel appropriate for the time in which her story takes place. They each have a distinct voice, too, which means there’s very little confusion about which character or timeline I was reading. Further, each woman’s story was interesting in its own right. I didn’t feel the need to rush through a chapter or two to find out what was happening with another character. Even when one character’s chapter ended with a cliffhanger, the novel was well paced, so that I knew I wouldn’t have to wait long to find out what happened.

Weyward is an excellent debut from Emilia Hart, and I look forward to more great stories to come!

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