Selah Kilbrid keeps a dangerous secret: she has the power to heal.
A direct descendent of the Celtic goddess Brigid, it’s Selah’s sacred duty to help those in need. But as the last of the Goddess Born living in the New World, she learned from an early age to keep her supernatural abilities hidden. The Quaker community of Hopewell has always been welcoming, but there’s no doubt they would see her hanged if her gift was revealed.
When a prominent minister threatens to try her with witchcraft unless she becomes his wife, Selah has only one hope—that her betrothed, a distant cousin from Ireland, arrives as planned. Marrying Samuel would keep her secret safe, preserve her sacred bloodline, and protect her from being charged as a witch.
But when news of Samuel’s death reaches the Colonies, Selah is truly on her own. Terrified, she faces an impossible choice—forfeit her powers and marry the loathsome Nathan? Or find an imposter to pose as her husband and preserve her birthright?
2013 RWA Golden Heart© Finalist
2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist
ABNA Publisher Weekly Reviewer
Set in the colony of Pennsylvania in 1730, this riveting novel begins as 18-year-old Selah Kilbrid runs into Quaker minister Nathan Crowley, a man who “labor[ed] under the delusion that [Selah] would soon be his wife” despite the fact that she was betrothed to a man on his way to America from Ireland. Nathan tells Selah that if she refuses him, he will have her “charged as a witch” because of her ability to heal the sick. To avoid Nathan’s plan to marry her the following Sunday, she leaves for Philadelphia to wait for the arrival of her betrothed and marry him before returning home. In Philadelphia, she discovers that her betrothed has died at sea. She then purchases Henry, an indentured servant, and convinces him to pose as her husband and help protect her from Nathan. As the story continues, the reader learns of Selah’s family history and the powers she possesses; Selah is half human, half goddess. It's important that her secret stay safe, because if discovered, she could be killed. The characters are well developed and relatable; the reader empathizes with Selah and her plight. The fast-paced plot is exciting and keeps the reader guessing and in suspense. The end leaves room for a sequel, which, after such a tremendous beginning, would be anxiously awaited. A clear winner!
I didn’t stop running until Brighmor was well out of view. With my heart pounding, I ducked out
of sight behind a large oak tree to wait. A good ten minutes passed before my heart finally
slowed, and I felt confident that Henry hadn’t followed me. Returning to the narrow pathway, I
walked at a more leisurely pace, throwing the occasional furtive look over my shoulder as I went
deeper and deeper into the woods to the manmade alcove that had been built right into the sidhe,
or small earthen mound.
Years ago my grandparents had carved away enough dirt to stack large rocks three feet
high, forming a wall in the shape of a half-moon. It measured about twelve feet from end to end
with an arc deep enough to accommodate my full height if I were inclined to lie down. In the
middle of the arc stood an altar, hewn from a piece of gray granite that had been sealed to the
earth by my grandmother’s blood mixed with a handful of sacred dirt brought over from the Old
World. Green and brown lichen grew on the stones, and dense foliage pushed up along the
perimeter, ready to spill over into the clearing.
With the rock wall behind me, I knelt down at the altar and set the dried herbs on the
smooth stone surface, charred black from countless fires. Finding the flint, I struck it repeatedly
to release a shower of white sparks over the bundle. As it started to smolder, fragrances of
cowslip, angelica, and goat’s rue rose up. With a long, deep breath, I pulled the smoke inside,
letting it inundate my senses. Then I began to recite the ancient words in preparation to cross
Brigid Buadach, Buaid na fine, Siur Rig nime, Nar in duine,
Eslind luige, Lethan breo. Riar na n-oiged, Oibel ecnai,
Ingen Dubthaig, Duine uallach, Brigid buadach, Brigid
The physical world began to waver. Keeping my voice to a low monotone, I repeated
the Gaelic words. At the end of the third repetition, the trees and stones, the smoldering bundle,
all flickered in and out of view, then disappeared altogether as my soul passed into to the
For a moment, there was nothing more than thick gray mist and the memory of burning
herbs. I stepped out of the mist into the warm sunlight at the edge of Brigid’s garden, free of the
night and my body that remained kneeling at the altar.
I love reading books about Salem and the witch trials so I jumped at the chance to read this book. I am so glad I did because I was immediately caught up in the story and Selah’s travails. Selah has the power to heal and she has a compulsion to help others whenever the need arises. This makes it almost impossible for her to keep her ability a secret.
I think there may be some confusion between Quakers and Puritans; at least I feel conflicted. Both existed and came to the New World to escape religious persecution, but many of the practices and attitudes described in the book as Quaker, more accurately seemed to me to describe Puritan practices. Quakers had women leaders, for the most part, though men also had important roles. Nathan seemed more Puritan than Quaker to me. My husband is Quaker and has done extensive research into the old Quaker customs.
I loved the Celtic mythology, and the mystery at several levels that was woven throughout the story. I loved the simmering romance between Henry and Selah. Both are hiding secrets that eventually come out. I am really looking forward to the next book as Selah’s adventures continue When Henry returns home to face his father and an expectant betrothed, Princess Amelia, in England.
This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
Author Kari Edgren
Kari Edgren did not dream of becoming a writer. Instead, she dreamed of everything else and was often made to stay inside during kindergarten recess to practice her letters. Despite doting parents and a decent school system, Ms. Edgren managed to make it through elementary school having completed only one book cover to cover – The Box Car Children, which she read approximately forty-seven times. Things improved during high school, but not until she read Gabrielle Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in college, did she truly understand the power of a book.
Ms. Edgren aspires to be a Vulcan, a world-acclaimed opera singer, and two inches taller. She resides in the Pacific NW where she spends a great deal of time torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts. Ms. Edgren hasn’t stopped dreaming, but has finally mastered her letters enough to put the stories on paper.
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