Thornyhold is a house deep in a wild wood like somewhere out of a fairy tale. Inheriting it is the beginning of a fairy tale for Geillis Ramsey. With the house she finds she is inheriting the mantle of her god-mother whose reputation was that of a wise-woman in a witch-infested region. Mary Stewart is author of the Merlin trilogy - "The Crystal Cave", "The Hollow Hills" and "The Last Enchantment".
A mild little gothicky romance, spun out in Stewart's familiar cozy style, but a limp distance from her Merlin trilogy (now available in one volume) - that popular, jaunty, cheerful rough-up of the Arthurian legends. This slight entertainment has to do with the off-and-on palpitations of a lone 1940's lass who is brushed by intimations of witchcraft in a rural English countryside. Gilly Ramsey had a lonely childhood, brightened briefly by visits from her godmother, Cousin Geilles Saxon - a seemingly magical and kindly woman who taught her to observe the intimacies of flowers and small creatures and even how to "see" the whorl in her crystal globe. Then, in 1948, the adult Gilly receives a legacy from the long-absent, apparently deceased Cousin Geilles - her cottage in Wiltshire. There, in the handsome but neglected house, Gilly makes the acquaintance of: Agnes Trapp, a rosy-cheeked countrywoman, eager to ply Gilly with help and food - and even more eager to search the house for something she desperately desires; the young boy William, who loved Cousin Geilles, healer of animals; his father Christopher, a novelist, alone and attractive (check off love interest); and Agnes' "simple" son. There are animals too: Cousin Geilles' cat, which Agnes had planned to drown, and a starving dog - ingredients in a deadly recipe?. There's a terrible dream trip to a coven, pigeons with messages from a dead woman and, now and then, Gilly's flashes of "the Sight." Soon, however, there'll be love, magic drooping before fact, and the amusing result from Agnes' latest potion. Pleasant enough, but the romantic-suspense readership would probably wish for more bumps in the night before "the same and daylight world" pops mystery. Still, Stewart's environs - a smug cottage, green fields, and country weathers - have an everlasting appeal. (Kirkus Reviews)