This little-known classic by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley is a wonderful treat for readers feeling the loss of this marvelous author. Part of Bradley's beloved "Light" series, Witch Hill is a sensuous story of witchcraft, demonic possession, and true love.
Sara Latimer's last relative has died. Heartbroken and feeling totally alone, Sara moves to the family home she had just inherited, Witch Hill, only to find that she is shunned by most of her neighbors.
Finally Matthew Hay, one of her only allies, explains that Sara's aunt was a powerful, evil witch and that the townspeople fear that Sara is following in her footsteps. Matthew and his ladylove, Tabitha, are also witches, and they too believe that Sara has her aunt's powers-and that she is ready to be possessed by her aunt's waiting spirit.
Sara crumbles under the steady onslaught of Matthew and Tabitha's evil. For a time, her love for Brian Standish keeps her sane, but at last Sara is lost in a maelstrom of dark power and sex magick.
As a Champion of Light, Colin MacLaren cannot allow Sara to be destroyed by Matthew Hay. Even at the risk of his own soul, he will save Sara.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Marion Zimmer Bradley was born in Albany, NY and lived for many years in Berkeley, CA. Best known as a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and romantic occult fiction, Bradley was also the editor of "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine" and many anthologies. Her most famous works include the "Darkover" series of science fiction novels and the "New York Times" bestselling "The Mists of Avalon," Bradley's romantic, magical, contemporary novels for Tor include T"he Inheritor, Heartlight, Ghostlight, "and" Witch Hill," Marion Zimmer Bradley died in 1999.
A PLACE TO LAY MY HEAD
It began to rain just as the funeral limousine drove out of the cemetery, and all the way back into the city, the hard beating of the rain and the steady swish-swish-swish of the wipers ran counterpoint to my own dismal thoughts. A week ago, there had been four of us. Four Latimers. Mother--Janet Latimer--fragile and often ill, which is why I had given up the exciting work I was doing at the Art School, and come home to look after her; but alive and very precious, well worth the coddling and care to save her failing heart any stress. Father--Paul Latimer--still vital, still very erect and slender, his hair greying but his eyes as bright as ever and his voice strong and definite. And Brad, the way he had looked in his uniform as he boarded the train to Parris Island for basic training; just nineteen, so full of fun and laughter.
A tight little circle; a loving family, but not a smothering or stifling one. I'd been on my own for three years, until Mother's heart attack, and I would be again when she was stronger. Brad had always wanted to go into the Marines; there'd been a Latimer in the armed forces ever since the Revolutionary War. Oh, we had lives of our own--but we had roots, too, and a strong, firm family. When Brad stepped on the train, the family wasn't breaking up; it was just loosening the apron strings; he'd go away from home as a gawky kid, as I'd gone away from home a shy teenage girl, and he'd come home a grown man, as I'd come home an adult, even a sophisticated woman, sure of the direction I wanted my life to take.
Only none of it had happened. Like a row of dominoes, as if we'd been set up for some idiot force to flick us with a finger, one after another, we'd gone down. It began with the yellow telegram from Brad's commander, and the words that had all run together in front of my eyes: Regret-to-inform-you--your-son-Paul-Bradley-Latimer-IV--killed-in-crash-of-training-helicopter--and the name I never could decipher or remember. My first thought, and Father's, had been: Mother--she mustn't know yet. It will kill her.
It did. She came in while the thought was still clear on our faces and before we could get the telegram out of sight. She said, in a whisper, "Is it Brad?" and even before we could answer or try to delay or deny it, dropped, like a stone. In the emergency room they said she must have been dead before she struck the floor, while Father and I were still racing to pick her up.
Riding in a funeral limousine just like this, four days ago, Father had spoken--almost for the first time--of his own roots. Among other things, he said we used to be related to half of Massachusetts. All I knew about his early life was that he'd been born in a little town in New England, near the coast; and that he'd left it at the age of sixteen, for reasons he never discussed. I didn't even know the name of the town; but that day he'd said, holding on to my hand, "Sara, when I die, I want to be buried here, beside your mother. Don't let anyone talk you into taking me back to Arkham, no matter what anyone in my family might say."
"Your family? I never knew--you never mentioned anyone, Father."
"No, I didn't," he said. "I suppose--well, I kept putting it off, year after year, telling you. I suppose, like most children, you just took it for granted that there were a few generations between you and Adam. I always thought there'd be plenty of time--that I'd go back some day. After Aunt Sara died--my father's sister, she died seven years ago--I always intended to go back some day and make my peace with all of them--or as many of them as were still alive; they're probably all dead now. But I thought I'd give everyone time to forget I'd ever existed. And then it turned out that there wasn't any time."
I picked up the name. "An Aunt Sara? Was I named for her, Father?"
He smiled bleakly. "No, Sara," he said, "but I was in the Marines--in Japan, as it happened--when you were born. So I left it to your poor mother to name you, and of all the infernal names in the calendar, she had to pick Sara--not that I'm blaming her, of course--Sara was her roommate's name at college. But Sara was--the one name I would never have given you!"
"Why not, Father?"
"Some other time," he said, and flinched. "No, not that. We've had a lesson in how little time any of us have--well, honey, let's put it this way. There has always been a Sara Latimer in our family, and none of them have been very happy, or very lucky. The first Sara Latimer was hanged for a witch, in Arkham, almost three hundred years ago. And ever since then--are you superstitious, Sara?"
"I don't think so. No more than anyone else." I said it quickly, not really thinking; I didn't worry about spilled salt, or walking under ladders, didn't cringe at the idea of black cats and didn't read my horoscope in the newspapers--or if I did, it was only to giggle. "No, not at all."
My father had smiled, sadly. His face was lined, and it seemed suddenly that he had aged twenty years in the last four days. With a small shudder of terror, it struck me; he was past sixty. And now he was all I had.…
"I never believed in superstitions, either; nor in bad luck, or family curses, or any of that sort of rot. Except--well, I was born in Arkham, and brought up to all kinds of stories about our family's history, talk about family curses, especially all the various Sara Latimers and the way they'd all met with violent deaths--oh, yes, that was part of it, too. I never mentioned any of it to your mother, and before you were born I gave her carte blanche to name you anything she liked. I sort of thought a little Janet would have been nice. But she picked Sara--just coincidence of course; but when I read her letter, there in HQ in Okinawa, I tell you, the cold chills ran up and down my spine."
"Strange," I said thoughtfully, "there are so many names in the world--"
"Well, Sara is a popular name," Father said slowly, "but when I heard she'd chosen to name you Sara, it seemed to me it was like the old saying about lightning. They used to say, when I was a boy in New England, that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. But it does. It's even more likely to strike where it's struck before. Our old house on Witch Hill Road was at the very top of a hill, and every summer, almost every thunderstorm, lightning would strike there, usually the northwest corner of the house. After we had electric lights put in, when I was ten years old or so, it seemed as if every storm struck the transformer outside, and my father finally had the lights disconnected; so we went back to using lamps and candles. Said it wasn't worth the danger of setting the house on fire, just to sit up and turn night into day. As I remember, Aunt Sara was pleased--she never did like the electric lights anyhow."
I, too, felt a small cold chill running up and down my spine. Lightning had struck twice in our family, indeed, already. And how could I count on it never striking again? "Is that why you never called me Sara when I was little? I was 'Sissy' until I went to school, and Sally after that, until I got into high school. Mother called me Sara, but you never did."
"That's so," he agreed, "the name stuck in my throat, so to speak. I'd gone so far to keep my daughter from being one of the Latimer--uh--from being a Sara Latimer," he amended. "And it seemed like Fate had just stepped in, no matter how I felt about it."
It was a gloomy enough conversation, it seemed; and yet, even to me, it was better than letting our minds turn back--back to the cemetery behind us, where Mother and Brad lay side by side. It would be bad enough to go back to the apartment alone. Maybe I could persuade Father to come away for a few days; perhaps to revisit the family of which he never spoke. I said, as lightly as I could manage, "Don't tell me that all the Sara Latimers went to the devil--and I don't believe in the devil. Not even in Arkham. After all, there aren't any witches, and haven't been for a couple of hundred years--even in Arkham!"
"I'm not so sure," he said somberly. "Anyway, they were all a pretty bad lot. There are a lot of Latimers up that way--Latimers and Marshes, my mother was a Marsh. You're related to half of Vermont and Rhode Island. Respectable folks, all of them, mostly farmers, blacksmiths, a few parsons, now and again some girl who'd get away to normal school--teachers college, you'd say nowadays--and come back to turn schoolmarm. Stubborn folks, too. Been me, I'd never have named another girl Sara after the first one was hanged out there on Witch Hill. But the old family Bible--I used to look in it, when I was a kid, went back to the seventeen-hundreds or something--had a Sara every couple of generations, and just as often as a Sara turned up in the family, she'd mean trouble." My father was not even talking to me now; his eyes were distant, and his voice had taken on the remote up-country twang which he had educated himself out of decades before. He was thinking out loud, not telling me family history. "One, two of the Saras died real young--babies in arms. But the rest, regular; Sara Jane Latimer; drowned, 1812. Sara Lou Latimer; died in childbirth, age sixteen, 1864. She ran off with a Confederate soldier. Sara Anne Latimer; killed by dogs, 1884. And one, Sara Beth, I don't rightly know just what she did, but they erased her name from the family Bible, and you had to be pretty wicked for that to happen!"
"No wonder you believed in the family curse," I said. "It does sound fairly--ominous. What about my Aunt Sara, the one I wasn't named for?"
His face hardened again. "Your Aunt Sara," he said slowly, "was one of the worst. She made my father's life hell, and my mother's, and mine. When I told her I was leaving, and taking my mother with me, she told me I'd come to a bloody bad end, and I swore that I'd never set foot in the same state with her so long as I lived. And I never have. That's why--"
The limousine's brakes screeched; I jerked forward, clu...
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Book Description Severn House Publishers, 1992. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0727843575