Magus of Stonewylde by Kit Berry Review and Interview

When I received this book in the mail I was thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to read a book described by the author as "Not thriller, nor fantasy, nor romance. Yet all of these and so much more." All I can say is WOW!

From the first page I was sucked into a world that at first I was envious of, but ultimately grew to question how much I would really love living there, all things considered. The story opens with Sylvie and her mother Miranda. Sylvie has been suffering with horrific allergies and skin conditions that have caused her to loose her will to live. So, when she is hospitalized and a Doctor broaches the subject of how much Sylvie looks like the Hallfolk of Stonewylde, both mother and daughters interests are piqued. After being introduced to the Magus, who is the head of Stonewylde, it is decided that even though they are outsiders, they will be allowed to come to Stonewylde to see if something can be done to help poor Sylvie get well.

All truth told, Magus is enchanted with her and her mother both. Once in Stonewylde, Sylvie receives a magical gift from Magus - a gift that causes her ailments to recede, and allows her to start living the life that seems on the surface to be every girls dream. Her mother to, although at first skeptical, grows quickly to love the life they lead in Stonewylde, and becomes quite fond of Magus as well.

Even though Sylvie and her mother are considered Hallfolk, Sylvie is drawn to Yul, an unruly Villager who is constantly being punished by either his father Alwyn, or Magus himself. Even though they have been forbidden to see each other, they are unable to stay away - it is much more than a physical connection between the two and in the end they both need what the other doesn't have to try and right all of the wrongs that are taking place.

Let me just say that there was one thing about the book that I did not enjoy, the fact that I need to wait until the next book to pick up where this fantastic book leaves off. Wonderfully written, well thought out and developed characters and storyline, this book certainly left me wanting more. Kudos to Kit Berry!

Questions for the author:

Where did you get the idea to create a community such as Stonewylde?

I lived in Dorset for many years, the place where Stonewylde is set. It's a beautiful and mystical part of England, and there are many standing stones and sacred sites there. I've always felt the power and magic of nature when out walking in the hills and woods. There's a huge country estate which is walled off and completely private, and when I used to drive past it, I started to imagine what could be behind the boundary walls. Once the idea had taken hold, there was no stopping it!

Were you familiar with the rituals you wrote about, or was research necessary in order to write the book?

I have some knowledge of earth-based magic and was always empathetic to the concepts of paganism. I did do a great deal of research on rituals and customs, and the rituals and ceremonies described in Stonewylde are a hybrid of modern celebration, ancient customs and beliefs, and pure imagination. The point with paganism is that there's no definitive creed or dogma, so in creating Stonewylde is was possible to use artistic license. I was concerned that some of my ideas may offend practicing pagans but in fact I've had nothing but praise and support from everyone who's written to me - and there are lots of them! When I received very favorable reviews from Professor Ronald Hutton, the UK's leading authority on modern paganism and British folklore, I realized my fears had been unfounded.

Who/what was your inspiration for this series of books?

I was initially inspired to reconnect with the earth by an encounter in some woods with a great hare. Apparently these type of encounters with a creature from nature are not uncommon, and the hare in particular is seen in folklore as an animal of transformation. This rekindled in me a great interest in finding out more about the natural world and earth-based religion. Then I had a very profound and mystical experience a couple of years later in a labyrinth, and this epiphany inspired me to actually start writing rather than just dreaming about it.

What can we look forward to in the future?

There will be five books in the Stonewylde Series. In the UK, the first three are now published and proving very successful. I have written the fourth and am currently working on it, and the fifth is yet to be written, although I know exactly what's going to happen. At present only the first title in the series has been published in the USA. Depending on the success of that, the others will follow but there are no immediate plans for this right now. The US edition of Magus of Stonewylde is available on and also through our US wholesaler, Magus Books (visit for more details). The name is pure coincidence! I see that on it's also possible to buy the UK editions of the second and third book, if anyone is interested. We've also had enquiries about film rights as the books would make fantastic movies. Reviews of all three books can be found on . Readers can visit my website too on and also join our forum, leave entries in the guest book, and subscribe to the Stonewylde newsletter.

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SmallWorld at Home said...

Great review! I'm not a fan of fantasy, although I've TRIED to read a few times, but this one does sound good!