Irena Brignull's The Hawkweed Legacy: Read an excerpt
Author Irena Brignull will follow up her witchy YA novel, The Hawkweed Prophecy, with The Hawkweed Legacy this summer. In this second book, Poppy Hooper, haunted by visions of her own death, moves in with a boy and his grandmother, who protect her by holding her captive. Elsewhere, Charlock attempts to regain Poppy’s trust by reuniting young Leo with his mother — but her actions leave Ember Hawkweed dangerously vulnerable.
Check out EW’s exclusive reveal of The Hawkweed Legacy’s cover and an excerpt from Chapter 5, below, as well as a first look at The Hawkweed Prophecy’s new paperback cover.
The Hawkweed Legacy hits shelves August 15, 2017.
Excerpt from The Hawkweed Legacy by Irena Brignull
Eighteen years ago …
Every year, the coming of spring was greeted by a celebration from the coven. On the last day of winter, the sisters wished for night to fall quickly for then the preparations would be over and the merriment could begin. As if mindful of its unpopularity, the sun hardly bothered to show itself through the clouds and day stitched to darkness almost seamlessly. Immediately, circle upon circle of candles were lit in readiness for the night’s festivities. For this eve was not for sleeping. The coven had taken to their beds that afternoon in order to remain awake the whole night through. Fires were burning and hogs roasting. Cider was being poured. Young witches were practising spells for their displays.
Now that they were seventeen, Charlock and her friend, Betony, were responsible for lighting the candles.
“We’re lucky there’s no breeze tonight,” murmured Charlock as she admired the tiny flames.
“Your sister has made certain of that, most likely,” joked Betony. “It is not just us she bosses but the weather too.” Charlock smiled, then looked around guiltily to see if Raven might be watching. “Don’t fear her so,” whispered Betony. “You are a Hawkweed too.”
Charlock shrugged. “Not the one that matters,” she said simply, without complaint.
It was true. She was the younger, softer sister, a witch with only moderate magic. Raven, on the other hand, was already the most powerful witch their clan had ever known. As if able to hear these silent thoughts, her sister turned her head and peered at Charlock from across the camp. Charlock waved her hand in nervous greeting but Raven only narrowed her eyes before returning her attention to her young daughter, Sorrel. Betony moved closer to Charlock in a show of solidarity. The pressure and warmth of her friend’s side against her own were comforting, as were Betony’s words.
“Come on,” she said. “These candles, this celebration, are for us. We have turned seventeen this winter. Not her. It is us who will be yoking for the first time tomorrow.”
“It is our night,” Charlock admitted, gazing out at the candles they had lit. She felt a sudden shiver of nerves and the flames seemed to flicker in response. “Do you ever doubt it though?” she whispered. “That we are ready?”
Betony didn’t hesitate. “I want an adventure, Charlock. I want to see something new.”
“But what of making a daughter?” Charlock reminded.
Betony took her hand. “We have many years for that,” she said, pulling Charlock towards a small throng of sisters by the storeroom. “Besides, look at Sisters Caraway, Mildred and Ivy. They are keen enough for all of us.”
Each seventeen-year-old was collecting a garland for her hair — snowdrops, irises and crocuses. Normally, flowers were not for picking but this celebration was different. For many of these girls, it was to be their first foray into town; for all, their first encounter with a male. As Charlock bent her head and felt the delicate petals caress her hair, she reminded herself of all that she’d been taught. Yoking was a part of life. It was natural and not to be feared. To bring a daughter into the world was the greatest achievement of any witch’s life – greater than any spell or magical gift. Charlock inhaled the sweet scent of the flowers and felt soothed. She didn’t have to go tomorrow. She knew that. It was only for those who wanted and there were many sisters who chose to remain childless. This was her choice. Besides, she had promised Betony and would not let her down.
She squeezed Betony’s hand. “I think I smell cake.”
“Sister Clover’s honey cake!” And they both laughed with delight as they ran to fetch some.
That night, they danced until their feet were sore and feasted till their bellies were full. Sister Wynne read their horoscopes and told their fortunes. Sister Ada produced her usual falconry display. Sister Starling, Charlock’s mother, told them stories of times long since past, of witches strong and true who suffered for their craft. The youngest of the group put on their own displays – one magicked mice from her sleeves. Another turned water into juice. One bent a spoon by staring at it. A small group recited healing spells in high and lilting voices. Everyone oohed and aahed and clapped as the children took a bow.
Charlock and Betony were the last to sleep and the last to awake. None minded though. The first day of spring was for the mothers in the clan and all those trying to become so. By the time Charlock rose from her bed, her mother had already received gifts from the other sisters, praising her achievement of bringing a daughter into the world and raising her in the ways of the craft. The Hawkweed table was laden with jars of nuts and dried fruits, hocks of ham and pots of pickles. Charlock gave her mother a hug when she saw them and thanked her as she always did on this day.
“Thank you, Mother, for all you have done and do for me.”
Her mother put her hands on Charlock’s cheeks, rough skin against smooth. ‘It is your turn now, my sweet. It makes me very proud to know that you will join the others for the yoking this evening.’ Then she plucked a fragment of a flower from Charlock’s hair and handed it to her. It lay in Charlock’s palm, crushed and damp, and Charlock felt a second’s sorrow at its loss.
Picking the rest of the garland from her hair, Charlock placed the dying flowers between the pages of her book of spells. Then she changed from her nightgown to her clothes. Her belly hardly curved and it was difficult to picture a baby curled up within it. Instead, she imagined how proud her mother would be if tonight she proved successful. Her reverie was broken by Raven’s strident tones.
“Charlock, stop dawdling!” came the call from outside the caravan. Charlock leant out of the window and saw her sister holding a little lamb. “Chop chop,” said Raven without a smile.
Copyright © 2017 by Irena Brignull, reprinted with permission from Hachette/Weinstein Books.