Updated: Mar 11
Release date: 7 March 2023 (2 Feb 2023 UK)
Narrators: Aysha Kala, Helen Keeley, Nell Barlow
Synopsis: 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.
Weyward is not for the faint of heart. It is a story of brutality against women spanning across hundreds of years and affecting Weyward women. I’ve no doubt that Weyward is a play on words, for these women do not follow convention, thus making them wayward in the eyes of society. They are much more than that and everything they’re seen as simultaneously. The book is horrific and hypnotizing, the prose melodious, and the characters unique. It will, if readers can stand to muddle through the heartbreak of it, leave an indelible mark.
I feel like Weyward is very similar to Practical Magic in that it tells of several generations of witches and their struggles, with a place to tie them all together and help them come into their power. They suffer trauma and violence at the hands of men and use their innate magic and knowledge of the natural world to rid themselves of or torment their abusers. Weyward diverges from Practical Magic, however, in many things. If you come to this book expecting the sparkly, romcom, happy ever after of the latter, you will be disappointed. There is a dark cloud over the narrative. Each page builds a sense of foreboding and unease. It is not a comfortable novel to read.
Kate, Violet, and Altha all share a bloodline that comes with gifts that connect them to each other, the people they love, and the natural world surrounding them. Altha, in the 17th century, suffers abuse at the hands of the courts during a witch trial accusing her of bewitching cows that trampled a village man. Violet, a complete innocent, must endure the apathy and disinterest of her father who seeks to marry her off to a horrible man. Kate, in the 21st century, must escape the prison of a relationship that may prove too harrowing for some readers. These women all converge on Weyward cottage, where they find their freedom and the strength to endure and pass their magic to the next generation.
I didn’t know what to expect from Weyward. I picked it up because the cover was beautiful and the synopsis cryptic and enticing. I did not expect to be enthralled by the storytelling despite the subject matter. The book deals very heavily with the abuse women suffer at the hands of terrible men, and in times when there was no legal support for them when they did. The violent encounters are very vividly described, and though I don’t usually issue content warnings, I will for this book. It may be disturbing for some. Read with discretion and caution.
I only had one drawback for this book. I feel Violet, as a sixteen-year-old in the 1940’s during World War II, would have been a bit more mature. Here, she’s written as though she were a small child. Her point of view read quite a bit like Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.
The audio narration for this book exceeded my expectations. Each Weyward woman had a different narrator, and I feel each narrator fit perfectly with the corresponding character. 5/5 stars for narration.
My thanks to Libro.fm for the ALC, for which I willingly give my own opinion.