I absolutely LOVED this book, but let me get some trigger warnings out of the way first: sexual assault and domestic violence, pregnancy loss, suicidal ideation.
The narrative of Weyward is broken up into three alternating parts, woven expertly together:
In the year 1619, Altha is on trial for witchcraft. She's been accused of murdering a local farmer (her former best friend's husband) by inciting a cow stampede. Before her mother passed away, Altha and her mother lived in a tiny cottage in the woods outside of London, and Altha learned to have a deep appreciation for and knowledge of the natural world, healing the local residents with herbs and tinctures. But as "modern" medicine (eg, bleeding patients with leaches!) takes hold, Altha and her mother are shunned by the villagers, and they begin to fear for their lives - for good reason.
In 1942, Violet is growing up in her family's manor house, with her tyrannical father - who just wants her to act like a proper lady - and her younger brother, who is afforded all the luxuries of an education that she isn't allowed due to her gender. Her mother is dead, passed away while giving birth to her brother, so she has assumed. If the rumor mill is to be believed, her mother went mad before her death, but her father and the servants all refuse to speak of it. The only reminders she has of her mother are a locket with a W engraved on it, and the word "weyward" scratched into the wall of what she thinks was her mother's room.
In 2019, Kate is living in London with her severely abusive boyfriend. When an aunt Kate barely knows passes away and leaves her a small cottage in the woods outside of London - a place called Weyward Cottage - Kate formulates a plan to escape his clutches and move to the cottage (which is also near a large country estate that is rumored to be owned by another of Kate's relatives). While there, she begins to learn more about her ancestors, the women that occupied this cottage before her, and they powers they all possess.
Across five centuries, Weyward tells the spellbinding tale of these three women, how they connect with the natural world and witchcraft, and the collisions they endure with an unaccepting outside world. It's a book about resilient, strong women, and the comfort they find in each other, even though they live many years apart. Hart writes wonderful characters, and vivid, entrancing, atmospheric settings. An incredibly impressive debut novel!
UP NEXT: The Killings at Kingfisher Hill, by Sophie Hannah