The Once and Future Witches (2020)
Author – Alix E. Harrow
Genre – Epic Fantasy
Page Count – 528 pages
Witch stories always make for an interesting read whether in the form of classics and folklore or recent releases like The Year of the Witching and the new book by the author of Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Once and Future Witches.
Alix E. Harrow attempts to provide justice for the thousands who burned because they were suspected of witchcraft but is able to do so much more in this book.
Based in the 1890’s, the USA is in the throes of the suffragist movement and women everywhere are rising to claim their birth rights. Among them are three women. Their paths had divided long back when as children Juniper was left behind by her sisters, Agnes and Bella. But on a completely ordinary day, a simple mumbling of a children’s rhyme brings them all together in New Salem.
SOME THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK
The book is based on the story of Saint George and the last three witches and reminded me of The Priory of the Orange Tree. But the story dives deep into the frustration and anger felt by women all over the world from centuries.
All three of the sisters feel their anger in different ways and fight against injustices according to it. Bella is intelligent and uses her drive for knowledge to defy the sexual mores of the time. Agnes is the mother who refuses to be loved by a man who only loves a little of her and Juniper is the fierce warrior who embodies the rage felt by generations and generations of women.
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The constant undercurrent of feminism, LGBTQ+ rights and equality elevated the story by a thousand fold. Cleopatra Quinn, a Black suffragist, brings to light the struggles of the colored people and the need to create a separate faction due to being sidelined by the white suffragists.
THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK
While the book was an interesting and fairly engrossing read, there were some aspects of it which became a little tiresome.
The book is long and slightly slow paced in the middle. It seems hurried at certain times as the story jumps between one sister to another.
Overall, The Once and Future Witches is an excellent read if you are looking for a fantasy of substance to read for Halloween.