For fans of Serpent & Dove and A House of Salt and Sorrows comes a darkly atmospheric and romantic fantasy about an untrained witch who must unlock her power to free her brothers from a terrible curse and save her home.
Rowenna Winthrop has always known there’s magic within her. But though she hears voices on the wind and possesses unusual talents, her mother Mairead believes Rowenna lacks discipline, and refuses to teach her the craft that keeps their Scottish village safe. And when Mairead dies a sinister death, it seems Rowenna’s only chance to grow into her power has died with her. Then, on a fateful, storm-tossed night, Rowenna rescues a handsome stranger named Gawen from a shipwreck, and her mother miraculously returns from the dead. Or so it appears.
The resurrected Mairead is nothing like the old one. To hide her new monstrous nature, she turns Rowenna’s brothers and Gawen into swans and robs Rowenna of her voice. Forced to flee, Rowenna travels to the city of Inverness to find a way to break the curse. But monsters take many forms, and in Inverness, Rowenna is soon caught in a web of strangers who want to use her raw magic for their own gain. If she wishes to save herself and the people she loves most, Rowenna will have to take her fate into her own hands and unlock the power that has evaded her for so long.
A story that feels like a Andersen tale with Arthurian vibes, this story of a witch coming into her powers takes us on a dark path of cruel sea creatures, and wicked Kings. A retelling of Andersen’s The Wild Swans, this story has far less brothers, and a much happier ending for the family.
I did feel that the middle of the story started to slow down, and I had to push myself to keep reading. However, the ending was easily the strongest part of the whole book, and more than made up for this. I also didn’t feel the need for the romance between Rowenna and Gawen, her love for her brothers and need to protect them was more interesting to me.
The Arthurian references in here are quite subtle, and it’s more vibes than outright connections but it was still appreciated. I’m constantly amazed that Laura isn’t British, every story set in England (and this time Scotland!) feels written by someone who has lived their whole life living and working along the windy coasts.
Just as she’d done the night after the curse had been laid upon them, Rowenna pressed a kiss to each of their foreheads.
“I’d move the world for any one of you. Don’t ever forget it.”
I am all of this and more.