by Kathleen Winter
Annabel is the story of an ordinary family, living in a small village in Labrador, to which a most extraordinary thing happens. The couple at the center of the novel is Jacinta and Treadway Blake. He is out on the trap line most of the year, and Jacinta is a housewife. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to a hermaphrodite. Jacinta’s friend Thomasina, who was present at the birth, is the only other person to know the true nature of her friend’s baby. When the doctor and Treadway make the decision to raise the baby as a boy, Jacinta struggles with the loss of her “daughter.” But she loves her “son” Wayne and, together and covertly with Thomasina, they try to indulge Wayne’s feminine side as much as they can without being obvious about it. Treadway, on the other hand, does everything he can to make a “man” out of his son.
Things seem to work for a while until Wayne reaches adolescence. Then his body begins to rebel, his feminine side trying to burst out of his masculine body.
This is a story about discovery, a quiet but powerful testament to tolerance and love, a parent’s love and how it can hurt, heal and nurture all at the same time.
I would highly recommend this book and would look for more from Ms. Winter.
The Witch’s Daughter
by Paula Brackston
This is an enchanting story of a teen-ager, Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith. The time is 1628, the place Wessex, England. Her father, brother and sister have succumbed to the Plague; all that is left of her family is her mother, until the witch-finder comes for her mother and Elizabeth watches as her mother is hanged as a witch. Before she can get over the grief of losing her entire family, they come for her, too. She runs, straight to Gideon Masters, the town’s strangest citizen, who lives alone in the woods.
She has always feared Gideon and for good reason, as she soon learns. He is an extremely powerful warlock who trains Elizabeth in the ways of witchery and who wants her for his own. Elizabeth becomes immortal and spends the next 380-plus years evading Gideon. She becomes a doctor during the time of Jack the Ripper and is a military nurse in the 1900s, while being hunted by Gideon throughout time.
Finally, it is 2007 and Elizabeth believes she has found a place to settle down and call home. She meets a young woman, Tegan, who shows an interest in witchcraft, so Elizabeth takes her under her wing and begins teaching her how to be a hedge witch. But soon trouble befalls the pair, as Tegan’s boyfriend turns out to be Gideon in disguise. And so begins a different type of partnership between the two women, with a common goal – to be rid of Gideon Masters once and for all.
This is a beautifully written first novel from Ms. Brackston that kept my interest from beginning to end. I would definitely recommend it and I await her next book.