The Once & Future Witches
Published by Orbit on October 13, 2020
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Once and Future Witches is Alix Harrow’s second novel following her amazing debut, The Ten Thousand Doors of January. To be honest, this book needs ALL of the stars!
Written with the same lyrical and atmospheric style as her first book, this historical fantasy is set in New Salem in the late 19th century. Witchcraft is forbidden. Women’s dresses don’t even have pockets – else they might hide the workings for spells. The Suffragette Movement is trying to have a voice with the mayor and council of New Salem.
The three Eastwood sisters haven’t been in contact for several years. Not realizing they’re all together again in the city, the sisters become tied together by their witchcraft as the maiden, mother, and crone.
Bringing back witchcraft is a daunting task – one that could restore women’s place in society. Or get them all burnt at the stake.
My thoughts about The Once and Future Witches
The world building is rich and thoughtful. Now that she’s written it – tying together witchcraft and the women’s suffrage movement makes SO much sense!
The relationships between James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna – the three sisters – is so complicated yet relatable. Misunderstandings and misinterpretations compounded by an abusive father have left them angry and hurt with each other. Yet despite that, underneath those feelings, they still love each other – so relatable.
Each sister has such a clearly realized and strong voice with her own goals and agenda. The author shifts the POV so each sister gets time in the spotlight yet I was never confused about which one a chapter focused on.
Not only does the book look at women’s rights and their place in society but also weaves in civil rights and LGBTQ+ rights. So skillfully done. At no point does the flow of the story stop so a character can soapbox.
The cover on this book is eye-catching and gorgeous. Do book covers influence your book choices? Entice you into picking them up?
If you haven’t already, read Alix Harrow’s first book, The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Beautiful and lyrical writing. A portal fantasy about finding where you belong.
And if you’re craving an unusual love story set against a background of a conflict, try This Is How You Lose the Time War. My full review here.
This a haunting but enjoyable read that left me in tears but wanting more.