Author: Mary Stewart
This old-fashioned gothic romance is as good as they get. When Gilly's witch aunt leaves Thornyhold to her, a house in the middle of the woods, Gilly finds that she has inherited far more than she realized. Along with the house comes a cat, a still room filled with herbs (and a missing recipe book), an attic chamber with carrier pigeons (who have secret messages), and an attractive neighbor whose young son offers the sacred and unique blessing of friendship. But Thornyhold possesses far more than even these simple offerings. The place itself seems to convoke otherworldly gifts as well: Gilly cultivates the abilities to heal and to foresee the future once she makes Thornyhold her home. (For those fans of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, there is a Geilis the witch in this book, too.)
Perfectly charming from start to finish. Ok, maybe not from the very start, with all of poor young Geillis' troubled childhood moments. With a cold and stern mother, parents that hold her at arm's length, and worse, refuse her the love she seeks from having pets, the only brightness is her mom's cousin of the same name. When she visits, Gilly finally feels loved and important, and ramble around the countryside together, while Gilly learns the names of flora and fauna.
Years later, Cousin Geillis passes away, leaving her younger cousin her beloved home, Thornyhold. Thornyhold sounds enchanting, located in the country, and Gilly is excited to be able to have something of her own. She moves in right away, and finds the woman who had been watching over her house, Agnes Trapp to be helpful in that irritating way. Is she a help or a hindrance? Are her motives pure, or does she have an ulterior motive for helping Gilly? Gilly also makes friends with a young neighbor, William, who visits with his sick ferret, in hopes that Gilly can fill her cousin's shoes as healer.
The reader is teased with the idea of country witches, spells, midnight rituals and out of body experiences. There is danger lurking somewhere out there, for people and for the animals that Gilly has taken in, pigeons, Hodge the cat, and a stray dog that Gilly hears at night. But where is the danger coming from, and why?
I loved this book. I loved the bits of magic and romance, the great old estate in the country, and Gilly. It is a perfect read for when you want something a little mysterious and supernatural, without going overboard, and might be best when the day is drizzly and you have a cup of tea readily at hand.