Title: The Once and Future Witches
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Release Date: 15/10/2020
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 54
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Orbit , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.
I predicted I would love this and I wasn’t wrong. Harrow’s writing is just amazing. She just weaves beautiful and detailed plotlines, while not fast paced and packed with drama and excitement there is still a page turning quality that just draws you along. I loved that each chapter started with a spell. These were all slightly twisted, changed versions of nursery rhymes or sayings that would be familiar to most. It just really adds to the atmosphere which has this real homey, kitchen witch vibe to it. It gives you a feeling that all these sayings, rhymes and poems that have survived generations have the splash of magic in their words and that just sums up the whole book. The words just hold a splash of magic in each on.
Another aspect I loved was the fairytale retellings. The book is dotted with short retellings of Grimm fairytales that have been given a more feminine twist to the stories. Just as dark and twisted as the originals but its the princesses that do the saving. They are retold in such a traditional style and they are just gorgeous to read. I would happily read a whole book of Harrow’s feminist retellings.
I really love how she sculpts and paints the world she creates. I could envision every area of New Salem that we visited with the Eastwood sisters. It has its hardships, its dark corners and its rays of light and happiness. We got such a good grasp of the lives of all the women in this story (no matter their background) and the hardships they faced. The magical elements slipped seamlessly into the world and didn’t feel out of place there. The sisters themselves as characters really held there own. The had such distinct personalities and you could really tell when we had moved perspectives with how the narration and outlook changes. They were each fierce and Magical in there own way.
It just has everything a could wish for, a couple of slow burn romances, fierce sisterhood, magic and mystery. Writing that just wraps you up in a blanket and takes you away to its magical land. I just loved it.