3.5⭐️ – The first word that comes to mind to describe this story is cosy, as in cosy mystery without the mystery. Cosy fantasy romance, then, I guess.
At twenty, Jane is expected to marry soon and she’s got the perfect suitor. If only she could stop recoiling from his touch… Once married she’ll have no choice but for the moment, she hides behind society’s rules, which are as restraining as they protect her. Late getting home one stormy evening, she takes a shortcut through the forest and is attacked by a beast. The infamous forest witch saves her and takes her home to help her heal. Jane soon finds out that most of the stories she’s heard about the witch are wrong.
Once the terrifying events of the beginning are over, the narrative becomes gentle, almost mellow, at least on the surface. Even as she gets to know Adelaide and finds herself falling in love with a woman who seems to be her exact opposite, Jane is faced with hard choices: which will she sacrifice, safety and comfort or love and the sense of freedom and belonging being true to yourself brings? As Jane discovers, the real danger doesn’t come from the inhospitable forest and its witch but from society and its patriarchal structure.
I love books that carry me away in a thunder of feelings but I’m fine too with quieter journeys with underlying strata. Ophelia Silk’s writing really worked for me, I loved the atmosphere and both main characters, as well as small details, tiny things that made this a very enjoyable read.