the winter witch book coverReviewed by Colleen Turner

When Morgana’s mother realizes that her health is failing she knows she must do something to ensure Morgana is protected when she is no longer around to do so. Morgana has never been accepted in their small village, always thought of as strange and slightly frightening due not only to her lack of speech but due to the power that seems to swell within her that makes the others keep their distance. So when Cai Jenkins, the sad widowed owner of a distant hillside farm, offers to marry this strange, wild girl her mother agrees, much to Morgana’s dismay.

Setting off with her new husband for her new home, Morgana is full of emotions: heartbroken to be leaving her beloved mother, angry that she seems to have so little choice in the matter, wary of this man she will now have to live with and excited yet nervous at the possibility of finding a fresh start in a village that might accept her for who she is. Ever so slowly and with numerous setbacks, Morgana and Cai begin to trust each other and, eventually, find a tender love and a strong bond. The other villagers, however, do not take to this bizarre woman as easily and when strange things begin happening around them, from the animals acting abnormal to unnatural weather and illness, they begin to point the finger at the silent Morgana who is unable to speak in her own defense. But something even more sinister then ignorance and fright is happening in the village and Morgana will have to learn how to harness her magical gifts if she is to save her new home and her and her love’s very lives.

Mixing a heavy dose of magic with superstition and a wild Welsh countryside, The Winter Witch is not my usual read but was, to my delight, very enjoyable. The descriptions of the savage and rugged yet beautiful countryside were quite vivid and made a wonderful backdrop for the unpredictable Morgana and her extraordinary abilities as well as the hard situations she found herself experiencing. Given that the book takes place in the harsh early nineteenth century Welsh hills, saturated with superstition and fear against anything different from what they have always known, I thoroughly expected her to find an unfriendly welcome wherever she went. I did not expect her to find an insidious evil that will stop at nothing to get what it wants, however, and this was a fun surprise. It took a leap of faith and an ability to suspend reality for a while, but once that was done it was a thrilling ride.

Anyone who enjoys stories of witches, the supernatural or strong yet unusual heroines will enjoy The Winter Witch. While it wasn’t perfect – it took longer than seemed necessary for Morgana and Cai to really trust each other and finally come together and once the evil doer was revealed it seemed to take a long time for Morgana to confront them and bring about a resolution – but the descriptions of the settings, the animals and Morgana’s connections to both where beautifully written. Morgana is a remarkable character and her development and battle against the evil only she can see was exciting. Definitely worth a read and I will be looking for more books by this author.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, and their dogs Oliver and Cleopatra. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship. You can find more of her reviews on her blog.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.