the lord of the forest has taken many lovers

Anya Donaghmore has slept with the lord of the forest and awakened to find that he’s taken many lovers. One of them wants her life. Her fate may be determined by a witch who died three centuries earlier, or by a secret which has flowed in the veins of her ancestors for considerably longer.

Wyccad is a tale of witchcraft, madness, lust and power set in the foreboding grandeur of the Scottish highlands.

One of the themes in Coven that I enjoyed writing about was the notion of what were essentially medieval witches living in the present. History is written by the winners — an effectively christian Europe wrote out of existence the people it couldn’t marginalize, exile, forcibly convert or put to death.

Of course, being written out of existence only affects the writers, not the written-about.

Wyccad takes place in the fortified house that was the setting for The Order. Over a century later, it has become a private hotel run on behalf of a wealthy family, and perhaps an extension of the secret society that held it during the nineteenth century. One of its staff is Anya Donaghmore, the great grand-daughter of the heroine in The Order.

Anya has discovered that the worship of the old gods involves more than chanting in Gaelic and running around with no clothes on. She’s found herself the recipient of some genuine magic, and she’s at something of a loss as to what she might do with it.

The clan MacLeith, who own the castle, have their own ideas how it might be employed. Some of them, like their Victorian predecessors, have questionable notions as to how to treat the staff.

The gifts bestowed upon her by the goddess might well end her genteel servitude and grant her title to the castle, but Anya will have to convince the goddess to explain herself before one of the MacLeiths puts a bullet through her head.

Perhaps more than any of the other novels I’ve written, Wyccad is driven by the clash of a christian present and a pagan past... not that any of the pagans therein see themselves as belonging to the past. The goddess has no complaints about televisions and indoor plumbing.

Much of Wyccad was conceived of whilest driving from Glasgow to Wales at about five miles an hour during a rail strike which appeared to have us sharing the M74 with every automobile in Britain. Being overtaken by a flatbed lorry carrying a locomotive was the final outrage. Anya, who gets about in the book almost exclusively on foot, could have walked the journey in substantially less time. This was the last time we flew into Scotland because the flights were cheaper.

The Order could be regarded as a prequel to Wyccad, but the two books have little to do with each other save for a common setting. You need not have read one to understand the other.

The cover includes a detail from The Death of Actaeon by Tiziano Vecelli, Titian (1488-1576), through Wikimedia Commons.