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Weyward by Emilia Hart
Magical realism

Weyward

BOTY FINALIST

Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to Weyward!

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Emilia Hart, on your first book!

by Emilia Hart

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Quick take

An ode to the natural world and female power, this lush, generation-spanning novel is equal parts daring and inspiring.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Feminist

    Feminist

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical

    Magical

  • Illustrated icon, nature_icon

    Nature

Synopsis

I am a Weyward, and wild inside.

2019: Under cover of darkness, Kate flees London for ramshackle Weyward Cottage, inherited from a great aunt she barely remembers. With its tumbling ivy and overgrown garden, the cottage is worlds away from the abusive partner who tormented Kate. But she begins to suspect that her great aunt had a secret. One that lurks in the bones of the cottage, hidden ever since the witch-hunts of the 17th century.

1619: Altha is awaiting trial for the murder of a local farmer who was stampeded to death by his herd. As a girl, Altha’s mother taught her their magic, a kind not rooted in spell casting, but in a deep knowledge of the natural world. But unusual women have always been deemed dangerous, and as the evidence for witchcraft is set out against Altha, she knows it will take all of her powers to maintain her freedom.

1942: As World War II rages, Violet is trapped in her family’s grand, crumbling estate. Straitjacketed by societal convention, she longs for the robust education her brother receives—and for her mother, long deceased, who was rumored to have gone mad before her death. The only traces Violet has of her are a locket bearing the initial W and the word weyward scratched into the baseboard of her bedroom.

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

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Content warning

This book contains scenes depicting sexual assault.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Weyward.
Weyward

CHAPTER ONE

KATE

2019

Kate is staring into the mirror when she hears it.

The key, scraping in the lock.

Her fingers shake as she hurries to fix her makeup, dark threads of mascara spidering onto her lower lids.

In the yellow light, she watches her pulse jump at her throat, beneath the necklace he gave her for their last anniversary. The chain is silver and thick, cold against her skin. She doesn’t wear it during the day, when he’s at work.

The front door clicks shut. The slap of his shoes on the floorboards. Wine, gurgling into a glass.

Panic flutters in her, like a bird. She takes a deep breath, touches the ribbon of scar on her left arm. Smiles one last time into the bathroom mirror. She can’t let him see that anything is different. That anything is wrong.

Simon leans against the kitchen counter, wine glass in hand. Her blood pounds at the sight. The long, dark lines of him in his suit, the cut of his cheekbones. His golden hair.

He watches her walk towards him in the dress she knows he likes. Stiff fabric, taut across her hips. Red. The same color as her underwear. Lace with little bows. As if Kate herself is something to be unwrapped, to be torn open.

She looks for clues. His tie is gone, three buttons of his shirt open to reveal fine curls. The whites of his eyes glow pink. He hands her a glass of wine and she catches the alcohol on his breath, sweet and pungent. Perspiration beads her back, under her arms.

The wine is chardonnay, usually her favorite. But now the smell turns her stomach, makes her think of rot. She presses the glass to her lips without taking a sip.

“Hi, babe,” she says in a bright voice, polished just for him. “How was work?”

But the words catch in her throat.

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Why I love it

Go ahead. You know you want to. Judge this book by its cover. It’s probably one of the best of the year.

And living inside the pages of Weyward are characters just as lovely and vivid: Kate in the present day running from an abusive husband, Violet in the early 20th century with an abusive father, and Altha in the 1600s on trial for witchcraft. These three unconventional green witches show us how connected we are as women to the past, to each other, and to nature.

“There was something about us—the Weyward women—that bonded us more tightly with the natural world . . . The animals, the birds, the plants—they let us in, recognising us as one of their own.”

Weyward hits all the right buttons of magical realism done right—that is, magic rooted in the believable. In this case, the world of nature. If you loved Hester and The Lost Apothecary, it vibrates in a similar way, but Emilia Hart’s voice is totally original, both gentle and fierce. She takes you on a journey through history, showing the cyclical struggle women had, and continue to have, with men who think they can control their lives, their decisions, and their bodies.

A bold and bewitching debut, Weyward will have you pining for fictional Weyward Cottage. But the big takeaway is that the power and magic found there is already in you, waiting for you to finally embrace it.

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Member ratings (24,744)

  • Angelica D.

    Salem, CT

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Still thinking about this one! One of the best I’ve read this year. Great book club pick, many topics to unpack. Trigger warnings: rape, violence against women, abortion/miscarrige

  • Jessica L.

    Roxboro, NC

    I loved this book. There is really so much I could say about it but to sum it all up in three words: I loved it. Absolutely loved it. Thank you Emilia Hart ????????????????????????. A round of applause for you.

  • Cameron M.

    Kokomo, IN

    Women being victimized through a lineage, suffering the same oppression that coincides with today’s current affairs. Beautifully intertwined like creeping ivy. …did I mention the cover?! Beautiful ❤️

  • Ashlie O.

    Castle Rock, CO

    Utterly fantastic! The eloquent prose of Emilia Hart’s writing as she describes the smells, sights and textures of the world around each character bring this novel to life. Feminism at its best. 5⭐️’s

  • Sophia G.

    Covina , CA

    Very easily my new favorite book. I am big lover of nature and the “little things” and this book is definitely for the people out there that see the beauty in everything. Taking “witch” to a new level

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