A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Content warnings: Homophobia, themes of assault and forced marriage, child neglect and abuse
- Jane and Adelaide balance each other so well.
- I just love a grouch.
- Sometimes comfort and happiness require slightly different things
- I just want to live in a cottage with a magical garden with my wife and dog is that too much to ask?
“There are rumors of the witch’s hellish familiar,” she murmured. “They say you’re as big as a panther and twice as inky black. I see that those, too, were exaggerations.” The cat was, perhaps, a bit overfed, but no larger in stature than any other housecat.
Jane Paris has lived her entire life wearing a mask of her own construction. She knows just what to say and when, how to dance, to smile, to stand with absolute grace. She has caught the attention of the most handsome man in town, she is known to be beautiful and elegant and everything a woman could aspire to be.
And she is miserable.
When a shortcut home goes horribly wrong, an encounter with a forest beast brings her face-to-face with the foul tempered witch of the woods, Adelaide Thompson. When Adelaide saves her life, Jane finds herself recovering from the attack in the isolation of the witch’s cottage and cut off from everything she has ever known, she is forced to confront the unhappiness growing inside her, and the cage propriety has forced her into. It doesn’t help that Adelaide is everything Jane has fought not to be – she is rude, outspoken and completely shameless about it.
Is it really any surprise that Jane falls in love with her?
Sometimes all you need in life is a cosy blanket and a book about a grouchy forest-dwelling witch and the woman she falls in love with. I have already convinced one friend to buy this book, and I have no intention of stopping there. When the author kindly reached out and asked if I would like to read her book I was thrilled, everything about this book called out to me and I am so happy I got to read it and share my thoughts with all of you!
Ophelia Silk has a wonderful ability to create a scene, from the whispering voices of the shadowy forest to the ‘organised’ chaos of Adelaide’s cabin, with its bunches of herbs and precarious stacks of books, the settings of the story were rich and clear in my mind.
I want Adelaide’s garden, I have no green thumb whatsoever and have managed through stubbornness alone to keep assorted succulents alive but I want flowers and bees and food. Instead I get hayfever and a moderately successful array of houseplants, but I digress. I wonder what the flower that would protect me would be, I’m not sure the source of floral magic for a scatterbrained dog-mum with a collection of tiny hats would be all that impressive. Maybe a small cactus flower, or a dandelion.
I loved Jane and Adelaide, the way that they both saw in each other the things they longed for – independence and community, bravery and kindness. I can understand entirely Adelaide’s desire to sequester herself alone in the woods, isolated from the world that has tried so many times to hurt her. She is lonely, but she is safe. Jane longs for that safety, that sense of home, but also for a community with whom to share it. It was so hard seeing them fall in love knowing that one of them seemed doomed to give up some part of herself in order for that love to continue. They are such different people, but so alike in many ways and they just compliment and balance each other out so well. I also love the amount of snark bouncing about between them, because in my experience a happy relationship is one in which you can comfortably roast each other.
This book made me so happy, unapologetically sapphic and full of people realising that the way things have always been is not, perhaps, the way they should be – that the cruelties the world inflicts upon them daily can be fought against and even destroyed, that nobody should have to cut themselves off entirely from the world to be safe, that we all deserve to be loved. I will absolutely be looking into more of Ophelia Silk’s books, and I hope you do too!