★★★★★ "It's full of betrayal, love, revenge, crazed villagers, and a dang cult...
...It was an exciting read all the way up to the end."
In a struggle between gods, a young witch and the village she protects are caught in the crossfire.
The dark god's cult aims to sweep up not just the village but the entire country. An unlikely force must stand against the onslaught.
Brygida, who comes from a long line of water witches serving their goddess, now challenged with a gift of dark power.
Kaspian, a second-born son who thought he'd spend his life painting instead of tending the rulership... until the murder of someone very dear to him.
And the Madwood, a slumbering forest full of apparitions, whose strength or madness could change the world forever...
Can Brygida and Kaspian stem the dark tide of the cult together?
Or will they, their people, their lands, and everything drown in the mortal inevitability of blood, demons, and a waking wood with an insatiable hunger...?
Fans of Juliet Marillier and Naomi Novik will love this beautifully dark mythic tale set in pre-medieval Eastern Europe with magic, mystery, and romance, blending folklore with history, all beneath the looming threat of brutal witch hunts and a cataclysmic demonic onslaught…
Grab your copy of Witch of the Lake and begin this mythic dark fantasy today!
Praise for the Witch of the Lake trilogy:
★★★★★ "FEAST OF THE MOTHER is a delightfully magical old-world fantasy. With a heroine who is both grave and valiant, a world full of mystery and haunting magic, and a mystery that will keep you riveted, you won’t be able to put down this delightful tale. Recommended for fans of AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS. Don’t miss this triumphant first-in-series by authors Miranda Honfleur and Nicolette Andrews." ~Sarah K. L. Wilson, bestselling author of the Dragon School series
★★★★★ "Steeped in rich and dark folklore, FEAST OF THE MOTHER is young-adult fantasy at its best. Honfleur and Andrews take witches, murder, and romance, twist and weave them together with an imaginative and mysterious backdrop of medieval grievances. The result is a page-turning tale that will keep you riveted from the first page until the very last." ~Raye Wagner, USA Today bestselling author of Magi Rising series
★★★★★ "If you love Naomi Novik's books, FEAST OF THE MOTHER is the dark, romantic story you've been waiting for! The mythos is vibrant and multi-layered. This fantasy satisfied to the fullest degree!" ~Alisha Klapheke, USA Today bestselling author of the Uncommon World series
The complete Witch of the Lake trilogy includes:
1. Feast of the Mother
2. Fate of the Demon
3. Fall of the Reaper
Hiding was always more difficult at this time of year. The tall golden fields of wheat, oats, and rye had been reaped, and their barren starkness offered no concealment—to her especially. To her great misfortune, otherness crowned her as conspicuously as a wedding wreath, if not the least bit as happily.
But at least she had this, from between the leaves a view of the world outside—or a glimpse, anyway. If she wasn’t home by dark, Mama would take the woven willow switch to her again, but she’d be home with time to spare. Just a little detour from gathering ingredients wouldn’t hurt.READ MORE
Careful not to step on the pots of honey or aged loaves of bread, Brygida leaned out from behind the enormous border oak, its living tree flesh struck and sundered by almighty Perun’s bright lightning. In the distance, a bearish man crept beside his house, plunging a brush none too gently into a bucket of whitewash. Beneath the blue-painted frame of a window, he stained the side of the oaken wall with dots, flashes of precious gems and metals glinting on his fingers in the high-noon sun like blades.
One of their customs—she’d seen it before. It was late in the season to announce a marriageable daughter to the village, so close as it was to the Feast of the Mother, but at least this man’s daughter would have a chance at her fall, a chance to choose someone to share in her life. She’d dance tomorrow night at the feast, plait the wreath of rue, make offerings at the shrine, and celebrate with other young women and the entire village. Together.
No chance of that in the wood.
The wind plowed along the harvested grassland, bending the stubbled fields toward the trees. Clutching the vial of Mroczne lake water at her neck, Brygida turned away, leaning against the Perun-struck oak with a wistful sigh. Such was not the destiny of Mrok witches like her, the women of the lake, who did not want the village and whom the village did not want. The oaks were their villagers and the craft their bridegroom, the lake their shrine and their offerings beneath the moon.
Mama and Mamusia had each other, of course, and liked it that way, but who was there for her?
No one lived in the wood other than her and her mothers, the Mrok witches. For the rest of her life, there would probably be no one else, and her mothers had made it as clear as Skawa river water that not only was she not allowed in the village, but no one would ever want her there.
With a deep breath, she pushed off from the oak and receded into the wood. In the village of Czarnobrzeg, the reaping was ending, and tomorrow a well-earned rest and celebration would follow, but at the Mrok cottage, there was always work to be done.
There was time enough to pick the honeysuckle and the ramsthorn as Mama had told her to, but she’d already spent too long at the border. Neither of her mothers would approve, and there was the switch to consider. She flinched.
The luscious twilight-blooming flowers of the honeysuckle grew along the outskirts of the wood, but their sweet fragrance greeted her long before the contrast of light-colored petals showed among the trinities of deep-green leaves. That enticing scent was but a taste of the delight honeysuckle offered, something Mamusia had shown her long, long ago… and now probably regretted she had.
Only a moment. It would take only a moment and no longer, wouldn’t it? Where was the harm?
With an impish grin to herself, Brygida picked a flower off the vine and pinched hard enough to break through the smooth petal. Slowly, she pulled on the end of the flower and guided all the delicious nectar to collect in a droplet at the end. Her mouth watered as she brought it to her lips and savored the sweet treat on her tongue. She helped herself to a few more, and only stopped to leave some for the hummingbirds.
With no one but her mothers to talk to, these simple pleasures had been the rays of sunshine in her day-to-day life. As a little girl, she’d spent hours with Mamusia at these shrubs, laughing and playing and suckling the honey-sweet nectar of these flowers. But around the Feast of the Mother, when all of Czarnobrzeg celebrated, Mamusia always became uncharacteristically sullen, no matter the forced smiles she wore.
Brygida gathered some of the flowers, just enough, and tucked them into her apron. She would be seventeen tomorrow on the autumnal equinox, and considering Mamusia never spoke of Brygida’s father, there was little doubt as to why her demeanor darkened at this time every year. Something had happened to him, or to her, or perhaps to them both, but it had to have been a long time ago, for there wasn’t a single memory Brygida had of him.
Perhaps these herbs were for Mamusia. An elegant water distilled from the blooms made an effective remedy for nervous headaches, and with enough to see her through this moon, at least she’d have an easier time of it.
The honeyed high-noon sunlight had long faded, and she had to return to the cottage before dark. Little time remained, so she needed to hurry.
Deeper into the wood, the myrtle shrubs, quatrefoil, and wild currant sprawled through the undergrowth, with the quatrefoil’s black crow’s-eye berries abundant. Poisonous as the worst of snakes. Everyone avoided touching them or the black currant for fear of mistaking the two. But she was a Mrok witch on her witchlands; every bit of this place was home to her, and its secrets spoke to her. She plucked the black currant as she passed, the tartness cutting the sugary honeysuckle nectar in her mouth.
A hedgehog greeted her shyly among the ferns, and as she flowed carefully around him, a ladybug landed on her hand. It was late in the year to see one, but it was always a merry meeting. Tiny fairies glowed not far away, flitting and fussing amongst the rare prickly gooseberry shrubs. Perhaps there would’ve been a fruit or two left if she hadn’t picked this one clean days ago.
With an apologetic wince, she approached with currant berries in her outstretched hand. In a flurry, the fairies flew in, each group gathering a single berry together. Let it never be said family didn’t help each other. They dug in, and hopefully all was forgiven about the gooseberries.
The wood had slept well for as long as she could remember; its manifestations were dreams and not nightmares as the Mrok grimoire warned, and Holy Mokosza willing, it would so remain. Quiet, undisturbed, dreaming. Fairies, too, thrived in a healthy wood but feared the village folk, who feared them as much in turn. At the slightest proximity, they’d hide, just as she did.
But no villagers wandered the wood, especially not when there was a harvest wreath to be crafted, a last sheaf of grain to be gathered, preparations for tomorrow’s feast to be made. If there was but a moment in Czarnobrzeg tonight to take a breath, even Great Mother Mokosza herself would topple her loom in surprise.
The ramsthorn yet awaited—another poisonous plant, and odorous to be sure. Mamusia sometimes used it to make a marshy-green pigment for writing in her grimoire.
Past a cloud of ephemeral dream-ghosts, Brygida moved toward the lake, the group of fairies flying alongside her as they usually did when it was just her, Mama, or Mamusia.
Not far from the shore, the fairies chimed in tune around Brygida’s shoulders, but a familiar song gave her pause, one the village girls sang when no suitors approached their fathers.
And... beneath their chime was her own voice. She’d been singing it to herself. My fall has not yet arrived.
Silliness. Her fall would never arrive, as every Mrok witch well knew. Witches never married. There would never be anyone for her, and nothing but the wood. She loved her home, so… she would have to make peace with it. The village was too dangerous anyway and, as Mama had said many times, didn’t want her there.
“Please don’t stop on my account,” a masculine voice offered.