I read Julian's House a few years ago and was blown away by it. It was one of those creepy, Gothic novels I never wanted to end. I searched for other works by Judith Hawkes and was disappointed to find that she has only written a few novels.
One of them is The Heart of a Witch. I lucked up on this novel at my Friends of the Library sale a month or so ago. At over 400 pages, I read through it pretty quickly. It just too me too long to get the review up.
Twins Kip and Shelley Davies wonder about The Arms, the elegant bed and breakfast that might as well be in another universe but that is just across the road from their house. What they find out about it changes their lives when they become members of a local coven.
Plot-- 5/5: This novel was wild. The story of Kip and Shelley grabbed me from the start. The tie ins with Wicca and evil make for a great read. I really didn't know where it was going for some time, and I like that. Hawkes is creative and is not afraid to tackle taboos and nudge them. If you want to read an exciting, mysterious, and edgy Gothic novel, this one is for you. I will warn that it does have some erotic scenes that some Gothicked readers might not enjoy.
Characterization-- 4/5: Apart from understanding Shelley's motivation or attraction to one particular love interest, the characters are well rounded and easy to sympathize with.
Atmosphere/spooky elements-- 4/5: Yes, this one had some spooky, scary, and frightening moments. The question of whether good or evil is at work comes up quite often.
Literary elements-- 4/5: The novel is well written and has the feel of a weighty work.
Romantic elements-- 4/5: Once some of you read this, you might scream at that rating. :) But the novel is full of many types of love, some of which push boundaries. I really like how Hawkes isn't afraid to go to the edge and then over it. My favorite gothic romance novel of all time, Wuthering Heights, does a great deal of that as well. With that said, I would not call this a gothic romance.
If you're interested in novels that deal with the struggle between good and evil, witchcraft, and what lies beneath the every day surface, this one is for you.