cover image Weyward


Emilia Hart. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-28080-0

Hart explores in her triumphant debut sexual desire, violence, and personal autonomy in the lives of three strong-willed English women from the 17th century to the present. In 1619 Lancaster, 21-year-old healer Altha Weyward stands accused of witchcraft after using powers learned from her mother to provide women with reproductive care. In 1942, 16-year-old Violet Ayres passes time by observing the creatures around her family home near the village of Crows Beck. Her widowed father keeps her confined there because she exhibits the same strange behavior as her mother, Elizabeth Weyward Ayres, who had the ability to command crows, but Violet nonetheless lusts after an army officer who visits the house. In 2019, pregnant 29-year-old Kate Ayres flees her abusive boyfriend and moves to a cottage in Crows Beck that was left to her by her great-aunt. As she settles into her new home, she finds documents about the Weyward women’s powers. Hart skillfully weaves together the stories of the determined women, showing how they confronted a patriarchal society to take control of their lives. The magic harnessed by the characters feels completely real in this captivating outing. Agent: Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown. (Mar.)

This review has been updated to clarify a plot point. A previous version of this review also incorrectly stated the Kate character was married.