Skip to Main Content

The White Hare

About The Book

For fans of Alice Hoffman and Kate Morton, The White Hare is a spellbinding novel about mothers and daughters finding a new home for themselves, the secrets they try to bury, and the local legends that may change their lives.

In the far west of Cornwall lies the White Valley, which cuts deeply through bluebell woods down to the sea at White Cove. The valley has a long and bloody history, laced with folklore, and in it sits a house above the beach that has lain neglected since the war. It comes with a reputation and a strange atmosphere, which is why mother and daughter Magdalena and Mila manage to acquire it so cheaply in the fateful summer of 1954.

Magda has grand plans to restore the house to its former glory as a venue for glittering parties, where the rich and celebrated gathered for cocktails and for bracing walks along the coast. Her grown daughter, Mila, just wants to escape the scandal in her past and make a safe and happy home for her little girl, Janey, a solitary, precocious child blessed with a vivid imagination, much of which she pours into stories about her magical plush toy, Rabbit.

But Janey’s rabbit isn’t the only magical being around. Legend has it that an enchanted white hare may be seen running through the woods. Is it an ill omen or a blessing? As Mila, her mother, and her young daughter adjust to life in this mysterious place, they will have to reckon with their own pasts and with the secrets that have been haunting the White Valley for decades.


Chapter 1 1
The body lies in the surf, lapped by the edges of the incoming waves. Each time the water falls back, little rills and whirlpools burgeon around the head and feet, making the pebbles rattle and the figure’s long red hair undulate like seaweed.

A gull swoops in to examine the scene; it is not unknown for a seal or even a dolphin to wash up on this treacherous stretch of coast. The instinctive curiosity of the perpetual scavenger combined with communal memory compels it to fly low to investigate. But the dead thing is neither a seal nor a dolphin. It gives off no smell at all as the blackback glides over it, and so the gull flies on, catching an updraft at the western arm of the cove, which takes it soaring over the dark woods on the hillside.

Out on the eastern horizon, pale sun breaks through the mist, melding sea and distant headland into a single hazy shape, a fata morgana from which fortresses may rise and fall or ghost ships break free under tattered sail in search of their lost crews. It could be any time, or no time.

And still the body lies there, larger waves lifting one pale hand as if the figure is making a feeble attempt to summon help, but no one comes.

Oystercatchers fly past, skimming the surface of the ocean, their plaintive cries piercing the cool air. In the woods, rooks rise cawing in a sudden clatter of wings that echoes in the valley’s dark cleft.

Sandflies buzz over the seaweed stranded further up the beach by the tide and drift lazily over the body as the waves gradually fall back towards the ocean. A small grey-green crab scuttles out of a rock pool and runs sideways over the sea-foamed stones and across the corpse’s foot, pausing briefly to register the unfamiliar texture, then resuming its path, picking up speed as if disturbed by its discovery.

The sun climbs higher. The body now lies fully exposed, a clear landmark on the shore. It lies like a person in repose, on its side, one arm flung up above the head, face turned from the land as if spurning human interaction. The soles of its feet are white as lilies and beginning to wrinkle. One knee is drawn up, lending the figure a dancer’s poise. The stains on the body’s clothing contrasting with the muted colours of the natural world punctuate the scene like a shout.

Bruises have flowered like dark roses upon the pale limbs. There are many submerged rocks along this stretch of coast. It is a place where mariners thrown from storm-wrecked vessels think to save themselves by swimming to the apparently welcoming shore, only to find the currents fiendishly working against them. Few, if any, survive a shipwreck here. But this body is not the victim of a shipwreck.

It is told in these parts that for a short time a corpse’s eyes may retain the ghostly image of the killer, or killers, their gaze last fixed upon. But maybe those who found the body arrived too late, for the only reflection in its clear blue eyes is of empty sky.

About The Author

Photograph by Abdel Bakrim

Jane Johnson is a novelist, historian, and publisher. She is the UK publisher of many bestselling authors, including George R.R. Martin. She has written for both adults and children, including the bestselling novels The Tenth Gift and The Salt Road. Jane is married to a Berber chef she met while climbing in Morocco. She divides her time between London, Cornwall, and the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Connect with her on Twitter @JaneJohnsonBakr, on Facebook @Jane-Johnson-Writer, on Instagram @JaneJohnsonBakrim, or visit her website at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 4, 2022)
  • Length: 400 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982140939

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

“This book does not hesitate to evoke a sense of wonder, and it does that better than I've seen it done in quite a while.”
ROBIN HOBB, New York Times bestselling author of The Farseer Trilogy

“Johnson’s writing is deliberate and lyrical . . . A refreshing and comforting read for fans of Alice Hoffman and V.E. Schwab. Gorgeous eco-supernatural elements make hauntings attractive.”
Library Journal (Starred Review)

“An engrossing gothic tale of family secrets, scandals, and ancient mysteries in a small Cornish village in 1954. . . . There are plenty of savory atmospheric details.”
Publishers Weekly

“A home renovation story with a Gothic flair, Johnson’s latest offers suspense, historical drama, and a hint of romance. Fans of Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden will be drawn in here.”

“In my mythical bookshop this would be in the ‘books that remind you of the true meaning of reading for pleasure’ section. It’s mythic, witchy, [and full of] mystery and romance. It sings of an earth alive with power.”
JACKIE MORRIS, co-author and illustrator of The Lost Spells

“I loved every page, every detail, and am at a loss now that I’ve finished it.”
LIZ FENWICK, award-winning author of The River Between Us

The White Hare is an exceptionally atmospheric read as Cornish folklore is mixed with the supernatural and readers who enjoy Kate Morton and Alice Hoffman, or those looking for a mysterious read, will want to pick this one up.”
Cloud Lake Literary

“It’s so life-enriching to be able to disappear into a good book for several hours and I’ve really enjoyed my stay in 1950s (and eternal) Cornwall. Good books are tickets from home to wherever you want to go and this one was very worth the ticket.”
ELIZABETH CHADWICK, author of A Marriage of Lions

“A gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous book. Mythic, emotionally rich, and deeply rooted in place.”
TERRI WINDLING, award-winning author of The Wood Wife

“Jam-packed with slowly released secrets: those between mothers and daughters, those kept by the villagers, and those locked away within traumatized minds. With lush descriptions of fashion, food, and especially nature, Johnson's prose appeals to sentiment and expertly evokes an often-menacing mood.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Jane Johnson