Monday, April 22, 2013

The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston

This was an interesting book. Morgana is a witch but does not really realize what power she has.  Her mother marries her off to Cai.  She does not want to marry him.  She barely knows him but she does what her mother wants.  Cai is a drover and must have a wife to be the head drover.  He takes her to his home 2 days travel away. His farm is beautiful.  Morgana is an outside person and revels in the beauty of the farm.  She helps him with the ponies he raises to sell in London when drives his town's cattle there.
On the farm there is a well which has power.  Someone in the town wants the power.  This person senses that Morgana is a witch and will do anything to get this power.  Who is it??

New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston transports readers to the windswept mountains of Wales in The Winter Witch, an enthralling tale of love and magic.
In her small early nineteenth century Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana.   She is small and quick and pretty enough to attract a suitor, but there are things that set her apart from other girls. Though her mind is sharp she has not spoken since she was a young girl. Her silence is a mystery, as well as her magic—the household objects that seem to move at her command, the bad luck that visits those who do her ill.  Concerned for her safety, her mother is anxious to see Morgana married, and Cai Jenkins, the widowed drover from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumors that swirl around her, seems the best choice.
            After her wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving her mother, and wary of this man, whom she does not know, and who will take her away to begin a new life.  But she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the wild mountains that surround it. Here, where frail humans are at the mercy of the elements, she thrives, her wild nature and her magic blossoming. Cai works to understand the beautiful, half-tamed creature he has chosen for a bride, and slowly, he begins to win Morgana’s affections.  It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village.  A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her.  Forced to defend her home, her man, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything in this beautifully written, enchanting novel.
“An enthralling tale of love and magic.” –USA Today

Excerpt from Macmillan
1.Does the spider consider herself beautiful? When she gazes into a dewdrop, does her reflection please her? Her web is finer than the finest lace, her body a bobbin working her own whisper thread. It is the web people admire. Its delicacy, its fragile strength. But the spider, poor creature, is thought of as ugly. She repulses some. Sends others into fainting fits. And yet she is beautiful, or so it seems to me. So nimble. So deft. So perfectly fashioned for the life fate has chosen for her. Like this one, here, in my palm. See how she ponders her next step, testing the surface, this way and that, her tiny feet tickling my skin, the hairs on her body sweeping my hand as she moves. How can something so exactly suited to its surroundings, to its existence, not be deserving of our admiration? How can a form so elegant, so neat, so sleek, not be recognized as beautiful? Must everything be pretty to be adored? The ladybird has black legs and a beetle body, but girls exclaim over the gaiety of her red wings and the cheerfulness of her spots. Must we always bedeck ourselves in prettiness to be thought pleasing? It would appear so. A woman must look a certain way to be worthy of a man’s attentions. It is expected. So here I stand, in a borrowed white gown, with flowers in my hair and at my waist, gaudy as a maypole, looking how I never look, presenting an aspect of myself that does not exist. It is a lie. How much happier I would be to don the gossamer spider’s web as my veil. And to drape myself in my customary dark colors, the better to blend with the shadows, the better to observe, and not to be observed.
“Morgana? Morgana!”
Mam is impatient. No, not impatient, a little afraid. Afraid that I might slip away, hide myself in one of my many secret places, and stay hidden until this moment has passed. This moment not of my asking. Not of my choosing.
Can she really wish me to go? To leave the only home I have ever known? To leave her? Surely a daughter’s place is at her mother’s side. Why must things change? Why will she not allow me to make my own choice, in this of all matters?
“Morgana, what are you doing?”
I am found. She peers in at me, stooping into the low entrance of my holly den. Blood hurries to her lowered head, flushing her face. Even in the dim light the prickly shelter allows I can see she is agitated. And that the rosiness of her cheeks is set against a worrying pallor.
“Morgana, your dress … you will make it filthy sitting in here. Come out.” She withdraws and I can put off the moment no longer. I ponder the spider in my hand. I could take her with me; pop her in my petticoat pocket. At least then I might have a friend as my witness this day. But no, she belongs here. Why should both of us be uprooted?
There, little spinner, back to your web.
I return her to her rightful place. I wish I could stay with her in this dark, close space, this earth womb. But my wishes count for nothing now. My fate has been decided. I squeeze out of the den.
Outside, the sun hurts my eyes. The brash light illuminates my silly dress and showy flowers. I feel most horribly bright. Most ridiculously colored. What nonsense we are all engaged in.
Duw, child, you have enough mud on you to plant potatoes. What were you thinking? In your wedding gown.”
She tutts and huffs and frowns at me but I am unconvinced. I see fear in her eyes. She cannot hide it from me. She ceases beating at my skirts in an effort to remove the dirt and places her hands on my shoulders, holding my gaze as firmly as she grips me.
“You are a woman now,” she says, having just this second called me child. “It would serve you well to behave as one. Your husband will expect some … manners, at the very least.”
Now it is my turn to frown. Husband! Might as well say Owner! Master! Lord! I turn away. I do not wish to look at her while my heart is full of anger. I feel my bottled fury bubbling within me, and something shifts, something alters. Sounds become distant. Voices meaningless. There is such a pressure inside my skull, such a force fighting to be released. My eyelids droop. My movements become slow and leaden. The sensation of falling backward grows.
“Morgana!” The urgency in Mam’s voice reaches me. Calls me back. “Do not, Morgana! Not now.”
I open my eyes and see the dauntless determination in hers. We are, after all, alike in this way.
She turns me on my heel and all but marches me from the garden and along the lane to the chapel. With every hurried step the plain stone building comes closer. I will enter it as my own person and leave belonging to another. How can this be?
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Pages: 341

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