Rating: 4 Stars
"He was a man, after all. He had no reason to think he would not be believed."
"Perhaps one day, she said, there would be a safer time. When women could walk the earth, shining bright with power, and yet live."
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 social 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.
I think this was a well written book considering it was three separate narratives across three timelines. I immediately was sucked into Altha's story and wanted more. Kate's story was a little harder to get into at first for me, and maybe that's because the other two timelines were historical and hers was modern. I have to admit I struggled some remembering exactly what timeline Violet was in because it didn't always feel very WWII. I just felt like we could have done a little more to indicate WWII. I felt like Kate and Violet's story really dominated the narrative and I would have liked a bit more of Altha's story. The other two women being a bit older made it necessary to remember that Violet was only 16, though because of her environment she acted much younger.
The whole first part of the book was basically showcasing how these three women have zero control over their own lives because of men. However, it takes great care to illustrate that each has a rebellious streak. By part two the women have encountered some intense obstacle that forces them to begin to accept the power they have, which often comes about after an intense trauma. And part 3 is just all the female rage vibes. At first I wondered about the connection between the three women because I wasn't sure what we were going for, but it does become obvious what the actual connection is. The book very quickly unlocks the feminine rage within you, but it's also a story about accepting yourself and your heritage. I just wish it wasn't so focused on how they all endured some intense trauma to become who they were meant to be.
At one point the book kind of seemed like everything bad that's happened to these women, is because of men, which don't get me wrong in the story it was... but they also didn't take any agency for themselves for a hot minute. And don't get me wrong the men in this book do some shady stuff, but I think that's more a reflection on the power that society during these periods gives men over women. While I think certain dynamics could have been written/handled differently overall it was a moving story of female power. I mean it unlocks the feminine rage for sure without really trying. So give it a shot if you haven't yet. I just wish we had gotten more magic, witchy vibes and less like natural healer vibes.
"Fiction became a friend as well as a safe harbor; a cocoon to protect her from the outside world and its dangers."