Fans of Shannon Hale and Kelly Barnhill will delight in this charming and richly imagined middle grade fantasy debut, featuring a wicked queen, magical animals, a henchman with a golden heart, and a small girl with a great destiny.
Many years ago, in the kingdom of Fenwood Reach, there was a powerful Windwitch who wove the seasons, keeping the land bountiful and the people happy. But then a dark magic drove her from the realm, and the world fell into chaos.
Brida is content in her small village of Oak Hollow. There, she’s plenty occupied trying to convince her fickle magic to actually do what it’s meant to in her work as a hedgewitch’s apprentice—until she accidentally catches the attention of the wicked queen.
On the run from the queen’s huntsman and her all-seeing Crow spies, Brida discovers the truth about her family, her magic, and who she is destined to be—and that she may hold the power to defeating the wicked queen and setting the kingdom right again.
About the Author
When she's not wandering her husband's family farm, kayaking on the lake, or riding her (formerly) wild rangebred mustangs, Jennifer Adam can be found surrounded by books, fountain pens, and cats. She believes in dancing through moonlight, celebrating rain, and making wishes. THE LAST WINDWITCH is her first novel.
Interview by Sam Taylor
What research did you do for this book? And what’s the strangest thing you had to Google?
This is a great question! I LOVE doing research, actually, so for this particular book I spent some time reading different mythologies surrounding crows, hounds, and horses. I knew I wanted to build my own folklore, but I love knowing that my story has deep, deep roots in ancient traditions.
The strangest thing I had to research was actually the wheeled dog sled that the Huntsman uses. I wanted something agile, quick, and pulled by dogs across rugged terrain without snow, but I wasn't sure such a thing actually existed. I knew about dog carts (too boxy for the idea in my head) and the travois that some indigenous tribes used, but I had something else in mind. Turns out that dogsled racers actually do use a wheeled version when they train in the off season, so I spent a fun afternoon watching videos of sled dogs pulling wheeled sleds in the height of summer.
What was the hardest scene to write?
Well, I'll try not to give too many spoilers, but I have to say the climactic battle scene. I am SO not a fight person, so I wanted to sort of skim over that scene and just focus on the stormhorses. My edit notes repeatedly asked me to really explore what was happening in that scene, who was doing what, how it was all unfolding. I kind of just wanted to say HERE'S THE BATTLE NOW LET'S MOVE ON. In the end, my daughter sat down with me to sketch out the framing and the pacing. She talked me through it so I could write it, but it was tough and it didn't really come together until my very last round of line edits.
What’s a favorite line from your book?
Hm. I don't think I have a favorite line, but I do love the scenes with Brida, the main character, and her mischievous pony, Burdock. They were so fun to write, and they were largely inspired by one of my own horses.
What’s the #1 thing you want readers to take from your book?
That there is no reason to compare yourself to someone else, that you have your own talents and strengths and powers. Also, no matter how dark things may appear, no matter how lonely the journey might feel, if you stay true to yourself you will find friends and allies. You don't have to face things alone.
What is your greatest struggle as a writer?
Self-doubt. I question everything.
How has writing helped you to grow as a human?
It has encouraged me to keep my eyes open, to soak in every experience – both good and bad – and to realize that our lives are full of stories. It has made me a more careful listener, a more observant and compassionate person. And it has taught me patience and discipline!
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I would tell myself not to let fear hold me back. I spent a long time worrying that I would never be a good enough to write and sell a book. Instead, I should have just been writing!
How do you maintain joy and balance in your life as a writer?
Finding a healthy and sustainable balance can be hard for me because I am so passionate about telling stories and wish that I could write and read ALL THE THINGS NOW. I am also a perfectionist so I want to sit at my desk until I feel that every sentence is just right. But I have a family, three spoiled cats, and a mustang mare I love with my whole heart. They need me to be present, so spending time with them keeps me grounded. Plus, riding my horse or walking around our farm brings me perspective. Writing requires inspiration, emotional resources, creativity – and those things can get depleted if you don't take time for other things you enjoy.
If your book were an after-school snack, what would it be?
Hee! Probably dark chocolate covered strawberries. Something sweet and rich, but with a hint of something bitter and tangy.
What embarrassing moment from your life could be a scene from a book?
I once got so nervous about a science test in middle school that I held my breath and passed out. It was super embarrassing.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Oh, goodness. I don't know. I often read quiet, quirky books that other people overlook. One that I've recently re-read is MURDER, MAGIC, AND WHAT WE WORE by Kelly Jones. It's a charming, quiet YA Regency spy book with magic gowns and brave women and it's one of my favorite comfort reads.
Pick up a copy of The Last Windwitch at your favorite indie bookstore or at the following retailers:
Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona’s desert and now lives among Connecticut’s trees. When not writing, Sam is busy being mom to the world’s cutest boys, whirling through dance workouts, and baking too many cakes. She does not possess fire magic, but does have one fire-colored cat. WE ARE THE FIRE is her debut novel.