And a synopsis:
Ella is a 17-year-old weaver whose entire livelihood depends on her loom. She dreams of opening her own shop, but when her father died in debtor’s prison, she had to support herself by taking whatever clients she could get. In order to buy her supplies she goes into debt of her own, and when her loom breaks, Ella realizes she needs more help than a repairperson can give her. She, like everyone, has heard about the old washerwoman spirit called the Bean-Nighe who will grant any one wish—for a price.
But Ella is desperate, so she asks the Bean-Nighe to fix her loom. And it works. The loom is fixed, and she creates beautiful pieces she could have never imagined before. All she has to do is feed the loom a drop of blood each time she weaves—a small price to pay for such magnificent silks. And when she brings two bolts to a rich client, she meets a mysterious young man named Callum and bargains for an invitation to his exclusive party. At that party, he’s so mesmerized by her talent, he offers Ella a place to live and patronage for her art. It seems like Ella’s fortune is finally turning for the better . . . until she begins to notice the loom taking more from her than she offered.
As she becomes entangled in the lives of the city’s rich, swept into Callum’s allure, and trapped by the Bean-Nighe’s magic, Ella must figure out a way to secure her future while she still has a future at all.
Here’s a painting of Ella by @winterofherdiscontent.
We asked Cyla a few questions:
What was your inspiration for writing Beguiled?
I love mythology, and have been drawn to Scotland for a long time. It’s where I’d love to have a little cottage in the woods! On a trip there three years ago, I decided the next manuscript I wrote would be set in a mythical version of Edinburgh. From there, I started with an idea for a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but instead of a spindle I wanted to give my main character a loom. Honestly, Beguiled became its own story, so I wouldn’t call it a retelling or re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty but it’s definitely rooted in folklore and fairy tales.
I love being able to basically live in my daydreams for a bit! I’ve always been drawn to fantasy—books, movies, etc.—and being able to write my own worlds now is a dream come true. There’s just this sense of freedom when writing fantasy—like you’re only limited by your imagination.
What do you hope readers will take away from the story?
I hope readers will take away the value of finding self-worth from the inside, instead of looking for validation from outside sources. I also hope readers will enjoy their time in what I hope is an enchanting world!
What was your favorite bit of research you ended up not using?
I absolutely love Ian Mortimer’s Time Traveller’s Guide series for research, and one thing that stood out is that someone in Early-Modern Scotland would have never heard anything louder than a church bell. It’s obvious if you think about it, but I hadn’t really ever considered that before—how quiet their world would have been.
And that’s the lovely author, who seems to have stepped from a fairy tale herself. Her debut novel, Stalking Shadows, was called “both beautiful and brutal” by Kirkus Reviews.