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Reviews of Weyward by Emilia Hart

Weyward by Emilia Hart


A Novel

by Emilia Hart
  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  • First Published:
  • Mar 7, 2023
  • Paperback:
  • Feb 2024
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About This Book

Book Summary

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.

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.

Chapter Seven

The guards took me down a cramped stone staircase to the dungeon. If the castle had swallowed me, now it had me in its bowels; for here it was even darker than where they'd held me in the village.

My gut churned between hunger and sickness, thirst clawing at my throat. My heart hammered at the sight of the heavy wooden door. I was already so weak. I did not know how much longer I would last.

But they gave me provisions, this time, before they locked me away—a thin blanket, a pot, and a pitcher of water. And an old hunk of bread, which I ate slowly, biting off tiny amounts and chewing until the saliva flooded my mouth.

I only took note of my surroundings once I had eaten my fill, my shrunken stomach cramping. They had given me no candle, but there was a small grate set high in the wall, letting in the last embers of the day.

The stone walls felt cold to the touch, and when I took my fingers away, they were damp. A dripping sound came from some- where, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Consider the evolution of the name "Weyward" and the way women in this novel receive it. Why and how do the Weyward women grow to accept and proudly own this name? Why do you think more recent versions of Macbeth have replaced "Weyward" with "Weird"?
  2. "The Weyward women had lived safely in Crows Beck these last hundred years, and in that time had healed its people ... We could use our ability to heal without attracting too much suspicion. The people were grateful for this gift" (page 279). How does the knowledge of other Weyward women help Altha, Violet, and Kate heal when they need to? What role does nature play in healing these three Weyward women?
  3. Consider the ways that witchcraft shapes all three narrative threads. Who does society ...
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BookBrowse Review


One of the most successful aspects of the book is its depiction of the Weyward women's mystical connection to the natural world. Their magical ability to communicate with animals and harness the power of nature comes across with poignant and delicate sensitivity, skillfully avoiding any potential magic-women-at-harmony-with-nature clichés. Weyward is an intelligent, hard-hitting, mesmerizing novel marking the auspicious debut of a talented writer and storyteller...continued

Full Review (620 words)

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(Reviewed by Jo-Anne Blanco).

Media Reviews

Chicago Review of Books
Hart's writing is stunning. She writes with grace and control [and her] greatest strength is her ability to harness suspense…When depicted both figuratively and literally, Hart's witches harness an inspiring feminine power.

Good Housekeeping (UK)
It seems to be the year of the witch book, and this is the best so far. A gripping debut.

The Times (UK)
A promising debut…Hart links the three stories very cleverly in this entertaining read about witchcraft, maternal ties and the power of the natural world.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A triumphant debut...the magic harnessed by the characters feels completely real in this captivating outing.

Tension and suspense are skillfully maintained as these women seek to extricate themselves from dire circumstances and discover secret strength. The result is a tale of magic and female empowerment and an atmospheric, gripping read.

Kirkus Reviews
Gripping...Thoughtful and at times harrowing, this novel is a successful blend of historical fiction and modern feminism.

Library Journal
The three timelines and the compelling stories of each of the women intertwine and are layered with the natural magic that runs through the female line of the Weyward family―magic that will help and heal. This combination of magical realism and historical fiction is perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman and Megan Giddings.

Author Blurb Abi Daré, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl With the Louding Voice
An utterly absorbing page turner. Emilia Hart has written a brilliant story of the strength, resilience and power of three women spanning decades, against a stunning backdrop of the frailty and beauty of nature. This is an outstanding debut and worthy of all the stars.

Author Blurb Abigail Dean, New York Times bestselling author of Girl A
Weyward spans three women's lives in three different centuries, connected by blood and one very unique gift. The writing's beautiful, the women are wonderful, and each narrative is as compelling as the next. Alive, vivid, gripping. Real magic.

Author Blurb Bridget Collins, Sunday Times bestselling author
A very poignant story of female endurance and hidden power, humming with a sly, exhilarating magic.

Author Blurb Gillian McAllister, New York Times bestselling author of Wrong Place Wrong Time
A totally unique debut that shines a light on the female experience. I loved it.

Author Blurb Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary
Hart evokes a powerful sense of place in each of the narratives, and elicits mystery and a rich atmosphere at every turn. A brave and original debut, Weyward is a spellbinding story about what may transpire when the natural world collides with a legacy of witchcraft.

Reader Reviews


Lasting impact!
This Debut Novel was my first book of 2023! It was beautifully written, and I loved the strong nature aspect that was detailed perfectly. This book concentrates on 3 different Wayward Women that span 5 generations. It was told with alternating POV, ...   Read More

Kept me engaged throughout
Very much enjoyed it. I was worried it would be a little heavy on the man-bashing but she did incorporate a couple of positive male characters. Not a deep or thought provoking read - but very entertaining.

About the book
This book is really good and interesting to read.

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Beyond the Book

The Pendle Witches

"Witch. The word slithers from the mouth like a serpent, drips from the tongue as thick and black as tar. We never thought of ourselves as witches, my mother and I. For this was a word invented by men, a word that brings power to those who speak it, not those it describes. A word that builds gallows and, turns breathing women into corpses."

Emilia Hart, Weyward

witches apprehendedAt the opening of Emilia Hart's Weyward, there is a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth regarding the three witches: "The Weyward Sisters, hand in hand/Posters of the sea and land/Thus do go, about, about/Thrice to thine/Thrice to mine/And thrice again to make up nine./ Peace, the charm's wound up." Following this quote, there is a note, stating: "'Weyward' is used in the First ...

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