I like a good witch/supernatural story every now and then, so pulled this one off my shelf (cbr13bingo shelfie!)
Brackston’s novel centers on Cai, a Welsh drover, and his new wife Morgana. Being a drover requires a wife, to assure the townspeople that the drover will return with their money after talking the village flocks to the London markets. Accordingly, even though Cai is not yet entirely over the death of his beloved first wife, he proposes to and marries Morgana, a younger woman from the village yonder. Morgana is mute and magical, meaning she’s always been an outsider, but her family is poor and she cannot afford (literally) to remain unmarried (plus: we’re in 1800s Wales- even if she was wealthy, remaining unmarried was not a real option). Once Morgana moves onto Cai’s farm, misfortune mounts and Morgana struggles to keep up a good face for the village while learning to control her own powers. She has a friend/mentor (their housekeeper/cook) and a nemesis (the beautiful and haughty town beauty, who wanted Cai for herself). She and Cai also slowly build a relationship, finding that trust and love don’t always need words to form.
All of this sounds pretty good, yes? I thought so too! And the ending really pulled things together, keeping me up late to finish once I passed the point of no return. But the beginning sections with all the character building and setting description? Oof; it was a struggle. I feel like I picked this one up and then put it down for days before I finally forced my way to power through (just like bringing a healthy lunch and then having no option but to eat it, I’ve found if I take only one book on a trip out of town I’m bound to read it).
Trying to figure out how to rate/recommend it falls into this middle ground: I would still (and did) recommend it to girlfriends who have a penchant for witchy or historical novels. I would not recommend it to my mom, who likes more mystery and plot.