August's selection: The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston
"A year after her husband's sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat's death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she's near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water.
On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew.
In her own time, Tilda's grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake's ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each other's, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren's prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more. Paula Brackston does it once again with The Silver Witch crafting an enchanting tale as timeless as it is engrossing."
I enjoyed this fantasy /historical fiction /romance novel, as much for the beautiful setting as the story. I think the main character's gradual discovery and control of her paranormal abilities is well- developed, and the overall pacing of the novel is just right. One of my favorite passages:
"Brynach sits back on his heels, gazing at her. 'I know she is a child of the moonlight,' he says, the sadness catching in his voice. 'I understand she must live as you do, making friends of shadows and shade, happiest and safest in the soft hours of cool darkness. I know this.' He turns to me. 'But I live my life by day, Seren. And though she is in your image, she has my blood.' He nods at the golden necklace. 'Now I know she will forever have a drop of sunshine with her, however deep the night. Forever.'"
So, for my project, I decided to represent Seren in her nighttime world. I made a necklace, using a Green Girl Studios pendant, showing a hare in the moonlight (it made me wonder if Cynthia had this book in mind when she created this piece -- so perfect!). I strung moonstone and prehnite briolettes and rondelles to represent the moonlight and the natural green and gold world inhabited by Seren, and finished it with an antique silver toggle clasp:
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