Selah Kilbrid keeps a dangerous secret: she has the power to heal.
A direct descendent of the Celtic goddess Brigid, it’s Selah’s sacred duty to help those in need. But as the last of the Goddess Born living in the New World, she learned from an early age to keep her supernatural abilities hidden. The Quaker community of Hopewell has always been welcoming, but there’s no doubt they would see her hanged if her gift was revealed.
When a prominent minister threatens to try her with witchcraft unless she becomes his wife, Selah has only one hope—that her betrothed, a distant cousin from Ireland, arrives as planned. Marrying Samuel would keep her secret safe, preserve her sacred bloodline, and protect her from being charged as a witch.
But when news of Samuel’s death reaches the Colonies, Selah is truly on her own. Terrified, she faces an impossible choice—forfeit her powers and marry the loathsome Nathan? Or find an imposter to pose as her husband and preserve her birthright?
2013 RWA Golden Heart© Finalist
2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist
ABNA Publisher Weekly Reviewer
Set in the colony of Pennsylvania in 1730, this riveting novel begins as 18-year-old Selah Kilbrid runs into Quaker minister Nathan Crowley, a man who “labor[ed] under the delusion that [Selah] would soon be his wife” despite the fact that she was betrothed to a man on his way to America from Ireland. Nathan tells Selah that if she refuses him, he will have her “charged as a witch” because of her ability to heal the sick. To avoid Nathan’s plan to marry her the following Sunday, she leaves for Philadelphia to wait for the arrival of her betrothed and marry him before returning home. In Philadelphia, she discovers that her betrothed has died at sea. She then purchases Henry, an indentured servant, and convinces him to pose as her husband and help protect her from Nathan. As the story continues, the reader learns of Selah’s family history and the powers she possesses; Selah is half human, half goddess. It's important that her secret stay safe, because if discovered, she could be killed. The characters are well developed and relatable; the reader empathizes with Selah and her plight. The fast-paced plot is exciting and keeps the reader guessing and in suspense. The end leaves room for a sequel, which, after such a tremendous beginning, would be anxiously awaited. A clear winner!
Author Kari Edgren
Kari Edgren did not dream of becoming a writer. Instead, she dreamed of everything else and was often made to stay inside during kindergarten recess to practice her letters. Despite doting parents and a decent school system, Ms. Edgren managed to make it through elementary school having completed only one book cover to cover – The Box Car Children, which she read approximately forty-seven times. Things improved during high school, but not until she read Gabrielle Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in college, did she truly understand the power of a book.
Ms. Edgren aspires to be a Vulcan, a world-acclaimed opera singer, and two inches taller. She resides in the Pacific NW where she spends a great deal of time torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts. Ms. Edgren hasn’t stopped dreaming, but has finally mastered her letters enough to put the stories on paper.
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I didn’t stop running until Brighmor was well out of view. With my heart pounding, I ducked out
of sight behind a large oak tree to wait. A good ten minutes passed before my heart finally
slowed, and I felt confident that Henry hadn’t followed me. Returning to the narrow pathway, I
walked at a more leisurely pace, throwing the occasional furtive look over my shoulder as I went
deeper and deeper into the woods to the manmade alcove that had been built right into the sidhe,
or small earthen mound.
Years ago my grandparents had carved away enough dirt to stack large rocks three feet
high, forming a wall in the shape of a half-moon. It measured about twelve feet from end to end
with an arc deep enough to accommodate my full height if I were inclined to lie down. In the
middle of the arc stood an altar, hewn from a piece of gray granite that had been sealed to the
earth by my grandmother’s blood mixed with a handful of sacred dirt brought over from the Old
World. Green and brown lichen grew on the stones, and dense foliage pushed up along the
perimeter, ready to spill over into the clearing.
With the rock wall behind me, I knelt down at the altar and set the dried herbs on the
smooth stone surface, charred black from countless fires. Finding the flint, I struck it repeatedly
to release a shower of white sparks over the bundle. As it started to smolder, fragrances of
cowslip, angelica, and goat’s rue rose up. With a long, deep breath, I pulled the smoke inside,
letting it inundate my senses. Then I began to recite the ancient words in preparation to cross
Brigid Buadach, Buaid na fine, Siur Rig nime, Nar in duine,
Eslind luige, Lethan breo. Riar na n-oiged, Oibel ecnai,
Ingen Dubthaig, Duine uallach, Brigid buadach, Brigid
The physical world began to waver. Keeping my voice to a low monotone, I repeated
the Gaelic words. At the end of the third repetition, the trees and stones, the smoldering bundle,
all flickered in and out of view, then disappeared altogether as my soul passed into to the
For a moment, there was nothing more than thick gray mist and the memory of burning
herbs. I stepped out of the mist into the warm sunlight at the edge of Brigid’s garden, free of the
night and my body that remained kneeling at the altar.
“Believe me, Mr. Alan, marrying you was truly my last option. Why else would I willingly
connect myself to a servant when half of the single men in Hopewell wanted my hand?” Well,
maybe not half, but I wasn’t really going for accuracy at the moment.
“Then why didn’t you take one of them instead?” he asked, giving me a sardonic grin.
“That is none of your concern.” I lifted my chin, but he was so tall my nose barely
topped his sternum, taking away from my attempt at a dignified air. “You are making such a fuss,
I almost wonder if you would have preferred Mr. Fletcher’s company to my own.” I smirked at
him, pleased with the insult.
The elegant curve of his mouth tensed in warning, but I was not about to back down
after being so rudely insulted. It was high time he remembered who was an heiress to a great
fortune and who had arrived a day before, indentured for service with nothing more than the
clothes on his back. Undesirable, indeed!
“Was it him you wanted instead of me?” I asked, pushing a little bit further.
His green eyes flashed dangerously as he leaned over me, bringing us almost nose to
nose. “A wife should never doubt her husband’s natural desires,” he said menacingly.
Disconcerted by his closeness, I started to move away when he grabbed my upper arms
and pulled me hard against him. Inhaling sharply, my rational mind scattered beneath the heady
scent of soap and masculine spice. Without thinking, I drew another breath, and my eyes strayed
to his mouth.
A soft chuckle vibrated deep in his chest. “So that’s why you’re angry.”
I jerked my gaze upward. “What do you—”
His fingers tightened on my arms. Then, with a dip of his head, he pressed his mouth
to mine. The suddenness so startled me, I forgot to kick and scream until his hold slackened a
The floor felt strangely off-kilter as I stumbled back a step. My eyes blinked open, and
Henry loomed large, looking angrier than before.
“Are you satisfied now?” he asked in a chillingly quiet voice.
Indignation roared to life inside me. “How dare you!” I cried, my hand rising in
retaliation. His reflexes were snakelike, and he caught my wrist in midair.
“There’s no need for that,” he said, guiding my hand back down. “A bride is promised
one kiss on her wedding day, but ask as you may, you’ll be getting no more from me.”
Quakers throughout the room had put their silence aside, and the meetinghouse began to hum
with their voices. More than a few people demanded that Nathan reveal the witch.
“You’ve given your warnings,” John Lewis called out above the other voices. “Now
give us her name!”
Nathan stared at me with unabashed hatred. “The spirit commands me to reveal the
witch!” he thundered, pointing a finger in my direction. “It was Selah Kilbrid that I saw in vision,
selling her soul to the Devil.”
A hushed silence fell over the meetinghouse as every eye turned in my direction. I sat
ramrod straight under their gaze, my chin slightly raised. Nora and Anne kept a firm hold on
each of my hands. Henry was poised to spring at the first hint of danger.
“You’re mistaken, Nathan,” Anne said calmly. “Selah is not a witch.”
“The spirit is not wrong!” Nathan cried. His nostrils flared and his eyes blazed like a
maniac. “Selah Kilbrid is the Devil’s whore!”
Confusion and shouting took over the meetinghouse. Several women hurried to get a
safe distance away from me.
“Mark Flanders lost a heifer two days ago,” a man shouted from the crowd.
“It died of acorn poisoning,” William yelled back angrily.
“Maybe it was Selah and she just made it look like the cow had eaten too many acorns,”
“Maybe you need to shut your mouth before I come over and shut it for you!” William
shouted, standing to face the man.
“Let the witch speak for herself!” the man yelled back.
During this exchange, Henry came over and pulled me protectively to his side. Nora
and Anne also stood, keeping close. Allison started to walk toward me, only to be stopped by her
mother, who looked uncertain. When William joined us, Henry leaned over to whisper
something in his ear. William nodded and then hurried toward the back door.
I stood stone still, my heart pounding painfully as my name spread through the crowd
outside, bringing more people into the meetinghouse to see me. The space in the middle quickly
disappeared, taken up by those being pushed forward to make room.
“Order!” Gideon bellowed, standing on a bench. “We will have order in God’s House!”
One by one, people fell silent, waiting for what the Elder would do next.
“Selah, please step forward,” Gideon instructed.
I did as he bid me, brushing past Nathan on my way. Henry stayed at my arm, a threat
to anyone who dared harm me.
“Selah, are you willing to answer some questions?” Gideon asked. He was all
seriousness, but from the concern in his eyes, I knew he meant to help.
I nodded and turned to face the crowd. Looking out at the mass of people, I was
amazed by my complete lack of fear.