REVIEW: Slowly Fell by Jayne Fresina
Do you believe in witches?
Adam Wyatt will tell you that he certainly doesn’t believe. He’s the solemn, sensible blacksmith of Slowly Fell and he keeps his distance from females entirely for his own tranquility of mind, not out of any fear of mischievous magic. In his opinion, the great number of souls lost forever to the village pond can be blamed on carelessness and unlucky accident; nothing to do with a witch’s curse.
The Dowager Lady Bramley, widow of the local squire, also denies a belief in witchcraft. Or ghosts. Although she’s lately enjoyed long discussions with her dear departed husband, who is intent on luring her to Slowly Fell, a place that haunts her dreams-a village with a macabre history, and a connection to her family that she would rather not remember.
Admiral Wetherby did not believe in witches either, until madness caused him to burn down his house and all his possessions, sending himself up in smoke with it. And now his daughter, practical, level-headed survivor, Sarah Wetherby, arriving in Slowly Fell to look after the vicar’s sick wife, doesn’t know what to think about witches. She is not a young woman prone to fanciful ideas, but she loves a good mystery, and there is certainly something going on in Slowly Fell. Sarah has begun to suspect that she’s lived here before. Certain sights around the village are familiar- the house where a reclusive old woman resides in grand, but lonely splendor; the pond where a family of accused witches once met their deaths in the ducking-stool, and even the gruff manners of that handsome bachelor blacksmith seem to her familiar as old friends. Or something more.
But in Slowly Fell, nothing and nobody is quite what they seem.
Dear Ms. Fresina,
I was actually eyeing another of your books when the cover of this one leaped out at me. Initially I was just looking at the woman, holding a lovely bouquet and appearing to be … under water? But then the subtitle smacked me upside the head: A Tale of Love and Thumbscrews. Okay now this I had to read.
The blurb is quite long but given the turns and twists of this story, it needed a long description. Even as detailed as it is, it still doesn’t cover everything that happens. To say the book is packed is an understatement. After a somewhat strange beginning, the tale took an immediate one of those turns and another major character was introduced. Wait …what … who is this?
Then slowly – an adjective that truly fits the book – the intricate plot began to take shape. It’s a Gordian Knot of a plot that kept me intrigued and interested and best of all guessing at What Would Happen Next. These sorts of books are few and far between and delight me.
A double bonus is that there are two romances:one told slowly (ah, that word again) in the present day and then the flashbacks to the rollicking, no holds barred courtship by which Sir Bramley wooed and won his Betsy. Then there’s a mystery or two or three to be solved, relationships to untangle and thumbscrews. Can’t forget those or the almery that Sarah sleeps in. Truly.
As the book headed down the backstretch for home, I did get worried. I’ve read two books recently which I’d almost finished and that seemed all set and ready for reviews to be written only to have Things Happen that felt like kicks to the teeth. I whimpered and might have muttered “oh no” a time or two. I’ll not say more but I got the HEA that I was hoping for and was delighted in how it was delivered.
I intend to try more of your stories and would love to hear from readers as to which ones I should look at next. Meanwhile, this one will stay with me for a while as I think back on the loops and spins it took me through. B+