The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston has all the makings of an enchanting, exciting novel: romance, dark magic, a white witch, and a magical well. The story begins with Morgana, a beautiful local girl who is being married off to a handsome, widowed stranger by her sick mother. Morgana's beauty, while not unnoticed by her husband's fellow villagers, is overshadowed by her lack of a voice -- a malady she has dealt with since the sudden fleeing of her father some years earlier.
As Morgana settles into married life, she is tenderly taken care of by her husband, Cai and his maid, Mrs. Jones, the latter of which reveals herself to be a hedge witch after she begins to notice Morgana's natural abilities manifest. Mrs. Jones quickly becomes a magical mentor and confidant, revealing to Morgana the magical well that sits on her husband's property. While Morgana ponders the magical well and the Grimoire that accompanies it, she realizes that her and Mrs. Jones aren't the only one aware of its presence.
Enter Isolda Bowen, a neighbor of Cai's who acts like a gracious host but has unpleasant plans underway to steal the well and grimoire out from under them while ruining Morgana's reputation in the meantime. Her evil seeps into the rest of the village, poisoning the already-suspicious villagers against Morgana and creating chaos for Cai and his business.
The story moves along smoothly, with the appropriate twists sprinkled in here and there. The story is told from both Morgana and Cai's point-of-view, usually alternating between chapters. While this was a little frustrating at first, I eventually became used to it and actually enjoyed seeing the plot unfold through two different perspectives.
The book's downfall is its hasty resolution. While I don't want to give too much away, the author builds up to a grand finale only to have it solved too easily, leaving the reader disappointed. One can only hope the too-simple solution is perhaps setting the stage for a sequel. If not, the ending is weak and doesn't do the rest of the book justice.
If you're looking for a quick, light read then this book may be for you. However, if complex plots and intricate details are your thing, skip this book for something with a little more meat to it.