Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review: Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

Title: Thornyhold
Author: Mary Stewart
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

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.)

My thoughts:

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.


  1. Darn it! I inherited a nice collection of Mary Stewart books from my grandmother but this isn't one of them. THORNYHOLD sounds like a fun one for sure, I may have to try and seek it out.

  2. I used to read Mary Stewart as a young woman, but I've never heard of this one. It sounds like a very good choice for this time of year and Mary Stewart Week. I love the main character's relationship with animals, and might look for this in my library or used book store.

    1. I checked mine out from the library too. Most of the books I read are library books actually. :)

  3. This one is just dreamy, isn't it? It's the first of Stewart's novels that I read and I fell in love with her writing straight away. I'm so glad you liked it.

    1. Dreamy is a perfect word. I loved its gentleness as I loved the mystery. This is a good first Stewart book!


I love hearing from people, don't be shy! I would love to hear what you think! I always reply back, although it takes me a bit longer these days due to the little guy.