cover image The Sadness of Witches

The Sadness of Witches

Janice Elliott. Trafalgar Square Publishing, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-340-41657-0

Witchery is abroad on the west coast of England, and witchery is in every line of this baleful and enticing novel in which Elliott's warm, offhand wit, the esoterica of witchcraft, and the vibrancy of the chief characters cast a spell. Molly and Walter Waterman, unable to pay suddenly astronomical taxes, move with their family from London to Cornwall, where the lanky graying, unworldly Walter, who has hardly paddled even a canoe, buys a sailboat. From across the harbor, the witch Martha Price steers Walter through gale and crosscurrent, right into her bed. While Walter, who has never before strayed, becomes obsessed wth Martha, she, to her great surprise, falls in human love with him. One of England's most popular novelists, Elliott ( Secret Places , Dr. Gruber's Daughter ) creates so persuasive an atmosphere and so credible a cast of characters that readers will willingly suspend disbelief in her not-quite-fantasy world. (October)