It’s nearly Christmas and committed Londoner, Mina Kestle, is close to signing a deal that will make her career and give her everything she’s ever wanted. And then she receives a mysterious letter in the post along with an ancient key, sent by her long-estranged godfather . . .

Davy Penhallow is an artist who lives on the tiny Cornish island of Morgelyn with only his pet cat, Murr, for company. Mina hasn’t seen or heard from him in decades, but now it seems he wants her to look after his cottage – and his cat – while he recovers from a stroke in hospital. Mina doesn’t know why Davy has written after all these years, but she intends to do what’s sort out the cottage and the cat and then get back to London in time for her career-saving meeting, before everything she’s built comes crashing down around her.

But the more time Mina spends in the cottage, looking after Murr and remembering the magic of Cornish folklore, the harder it becomes for her to tear herself away. And when she discovers that a set of ruthless property developers are coming for Morgelyn, she realises she might be the only one who can stand in their way to save the island, Davy’s cottage and Murr’s home.

As Christmas draws ever closer and echoes of the past – her own and the island’s – wash up in her memory, Mina begins to unravel a generation of secrets… and discover what it is she has truly always wanted . . .


4,5 stars

What a delicious novella!

I got this book, courtesy of the publisher, Sphere and Little Brown Book Group and  this was such a nice surprise!

The first thing I want to say is that the writing is positively enchanting!

Lili Hayward has such a way with words that every scene came alive! I could see the landscape of these savage isles as if I was there, feet in the sand and wind in my hair.

To give you a taste, here is an excerpt:

Davy’s cottage stands alone in a tiny cove, sheltered by banks of gorse and bracken. Its grey stone walls are so worn by the winds, they’re almost round, the slate of roof thick with lichen, the glass studio built on the other side overgrown with brambles and heather. The garden is the cove itself, a crescent of pebbles and white sand. And beyond, open sea.”

As the synopsis states, we follow Mina, a Londoner who is desperately trying to succeed in marketing and whose life will be turned upside down by a letter. That letter is only five words from Davy, her godfather she hasn’t seen in decades.

In a few sentences, we feel past trauma with her mom’s death and her, aged eight years and feeling abandoned.

In a rush, Mina leaves a party, hop on a train then a tiny plane to go back to Morgelyn’s island and care for Murr,  Davy’s cat while he is unconscious in the hospital.

She meant to leave the day self but soon enough, the island’s magic and maybe Murr’s magic will ensnare her. And when she learns greedy promotors want to evict everyone and build a marina, Mina will fight back with all that she got.

In just a little more than 200 pages, we discover past trauma, secrets, fight against evil promotors and read a lot about the isle’s enthralling folklore. And let’s not forget Murr, the cat’s strange magic…

Lili Hayward is a true magician with words and she had me enthralled by her prose.

I devoured that Christmas tale and I wholeheartedly recommend this book!

Thanks for reading.


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