Sonderbooks Book Review of

The Hedgewitch of Foxhall

by Anna Bright

read by Fiona Hardingham, Alister Austin, and James Meunier

The Hedgewitch of Foxhall

by Anna Bright
read by Fiona Hardingham, Alister Austin, and James Meunier

Review posted May 29, 2024
HarperTeen, 2024. 12 hours.
Review written May 29, 2024, from a library eaudiobook.
Starred Review

This is another eaudiobook I chose because it is wildly popular with our library customers. And this time, I struck pure gold! I loved this book with all my heart.

Now, as any time where the narrators have gorgeous British accents, listening to these readers made me love it all the more. But the tale itself has everything I love in a fantasy novel -- characters who defy expectations and live by their own rules, magic that is easy to understand and makes sense, a plot that gets you wondering how they'll make it through but ties up brilliantly, and of course some romance. [In this case, plenty of romance but no sex between the characters. Nowadays, I like to let people know.]

This book is set in medieval Wales, and the Author's note reveals that she took pains to be true to what we know of that history. Our title character is Ffion. She's a hedgewitch, not affiliated with the giant coven in Foxhall her mother and sisters are part of -- a coven that charges for people even to wait in line to request help. Ffion does small magic for people who can't afford their prices. But much worse is that the coven doesn't care what price they take from the land to work their magic -- and Ffion's fox familiar is caught up and killed in a fire of their making. Ffion is determined to do a summoning spell to bring him back -- but she will have to do it before the new moon, when his spirit will depart for good.

There are two more viewpoint characters in this book. They are the princes Dafydd and Taliesin. They are being set against each other by their father the king. The court magician -- before losing his magic altogether -- prophesied the death of the king at the New Moon. Everyone's sure it has to do with fighting the encroaching Mercians and their king, King Offa. So the king sets the princes on a task of destroying the dyke King Offa has built at the border of Wales. They believe this dyke is what has leached the magic from Wales and caused sightings of magical creatures to stop.

Taliesin goes to the coven at Foxhall to get help to destroy the dyke with magic, and gets no help from them -- but does recruit Ffion to his cause. Instead of using the land to give her power, Ffion gains power from her work, and she plans to walk the entire length of the dyke to gain the power to bring it down -- and gain the power to summon her fox while she is doing that. But also in their travels, they realize they will need to gain the use of three magical objects important to Wales -- but it will take some work to convince the current possessors of those objects to relinquish them.

Tal's competition is his older brother Dafydd, who has long said he doesn't want to be king. Instead of spending time in court, he works as a blacksmith, where he feels he can do unambiguous good. But their father wants Dafydd to follow after him, and as it happens, he's been having visions of Ffion for years - to be his court magician when he is king.

Something I love about this book is that I loved all the characters and honestly wasn't sure who I wanted to win the kingdom or who I wanted to end up with Ffion. Both princes have their own strengths and weaknesses, and since both were viewpoint characters, they each had my sympathy as the reader.

And so most of the book is traveling through Wales, ultimately trying to bring back Welsh magic. With plenty of obstacles and interactions, adding up to a marvelous tale.

And I'm super excited to find another stellar author! I found another of her books already available as an eaudiobook, so expect to hear more.