Thornyhold is the third novel of Mary Stewart’s that I’ve read; although I generally enjoy Stewart’s novels, I’d definitely say this wasn’t as good as Nine Coaches Waiting or The Ivy Tree.
Geillis has just inherited Thornyhold, an 18th century house that had once apparently belonged to a Victorian-era witch, from her cousin, also named Geillis. Upon moving to the house, Geillis becomes caught up in its atmosphere, even taking on her cousin’s reputation as a witch.
Stewart definitely has a flair for the dramatic, and for infusing her stories and settings with magic. There’s a sort of dreamlike quality about Thornyhold. But here, I felt that something was missing—the novel (really a novella) was too short for character development, too short for the development of the romance. Stewart’s other novels had villains that were creepy; the “villain” in this novel is sort of caricaturish. In addition, the novel is quite sad in some places as Geillis describes to the reader what her childhood was like. I’m still a fan of Mary Stewart’s, though. She really knows how to craft a novel that’s got atmosphere.