The Witches of Vardo
by Anya Vargman
FEATURED IN BOOKTIME
- Published: 5 Jan 2023
- Historical fiction
Anna, King's Prisoner, stands on the bow of a boat in the snow. She is a woman not long past her child-bearing years, refusing to fade away meekly. She hankers to return to the King's Court in Copenhagen.
But Anna can see only one way of getting the pardon she craves and her old life of privilege back. Witches. Here on this island in the far North, there are women who stand out in the tiny fishing community.
Ingeborg is as clever and nimble as a cat, climbing the steep cliffs after gulls' eggs. She is caretaker for her wayward widowed mother, and her ethereal little sister. Maren is an outcast: the daughter of a convicted witch and a pirate from North Africa, she is as tall as a tree with long wild hair and amber eyes.
Beholden to no man, she knows the secret pulse of this wild and desolate place. Only the Sami community - outsiders too - accept Maren's ways. The powers of these Vardo women are a threat to the Church and the State.
If the Governor of Vardo is to protect the King, and his people, from their evil reach, he must purge the island of all the witches. Sending their ashes into the night sky. As the Witch Panic mounts it appears any act of agency can brand you a witch: dancing, drinking beer, midwifery, falling in love with a married man.
Anna is caught between the Governor and the accused women. Can she turn her back on them, to get her heart's desire? But then Anna finds someone she wants even more than her own freedom, and a power within her she never knew she possessed. The Witches of Vardo are stronger than even the King of Denmark.
In an age weighted against them they refuse to be victims. They will have their justice. All they need do is show their power.