Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Witchwood Knot by Olivia Atwater
Series: Victorian Faerie Tales #1
on November 28, 2023
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple
The faeries of Witchwood Manor have stolen its young lord. His governess intends to steal him back.
Victorian governess Winifred Hall knows a con when she sees one. When her bratty young charge transforms overnight into a perfectly behaved block of wood, she soon realises that the real boy has been abducted by the Fair Folk. Unfortunately, the lord of Witchwood Manor is the only man in England who doesn’t believe in faeries—which leaves Winnie in the unenviable position of rescuing the young lord-to-be all by herself.
Witchwood Manor is bigger than its inhabitants realise, however, and full of otherworldly dangers. As Winnie delves deeper into the other side of the house, she enlists the aid of its dark and dubious faerie butler, Mr Quincy, who hides several awful secrets behind his charming smile. Winnie hopes to make her way to the centre of the Witchwood Knot through wit and cleverness… but when all of her usual tricks fail, who will she dare to trust?
The Witchwood Knot is the first book in the Victorian Faery Tales, a new spin off series set after the events in the Regency Faery Tales series. I had not read the prior series and still enjoyed this book so much, in fact right after finishing it I went back and read the first series since I was so enchanted by the world and Olivia Atwater’s writing. But, I saw there are a lot of nods to at least Half a Soul that I would have gotten a little more out of if I’d read it as well.
Winnifred has come to Witchwood Manor to help solve a mystery and a curse on the house. The lady of the keep is ill and wants desperately to keep her grandson safe. The Fae though, have infiltrated the manor and causing no end of trouble for family and the servants. There are actually only a few servants willing to work there, because those who sleep under the manor’s roof have a tendency to be transported to a pocket faery realm and the fae in the realm are no end of trouble to the mortals transported there. Winnie is supposed to keep her charge safe and figure out how to thwart the curse. Just one problem, she has already lost her charge, replaced by a changeling boy and now she has to rescue him.
This was a little dark with so many great reveals along the way. The house and its history, what was released from the ground there and so many other questions posed I hope will be answered in the rest of the series, that I think will feature Winnie’s sisters who are still in London. Winnifred finds an reluctant ally in the house to help her on her quest to save the young master snatched away to Faery and we get to see the Knot. Mr. Quincy has played the butler in the Manor and Winnie has found a way to bargain with him to find the missing boy in the heart of the Knot. There are many dangers in Faery and in the Manor that they will have to traverse if they are going to win.
There was no happy ending, here– but she could choose the unhappy ending which most suited her. That had to be enough.
I enjoyed this story, the gothic romance, the mystery and the set up for the next two books in the series. I am pretty desperate to find out more of Winnie’s sisters and why the pathways to Faery in London have vanished. This was a great set up for the overlaying arc it seems we will get in this series. Having now read the original series, I can say that The Witchwood Knot is a bit darker in a delicious kind of way, more like a true Faery story. Winnie and the way she sees the world is really fantastic and I loved seeing the Curse of the Manor through her eyes. Otherwise the story might have been more scary than interesting.
Great start to a new series blending Gothic Romance with Faery Stories.
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