Book Review: “The Once and Future Witches” by Alix E. Harrow

I loved this book! It was the second selection for a book group I recently joined called “The Coven.” I was not optimistic when I realized that ALL of the titles we would read would most likely be in the SciFi/Fantasy genre, and I struggled with this book for the first 75 pages or so. I was encouraged by my girlfriends to keep going, and I am so glad I did!  I soon came to the point where I couldn’t put it down.

The storytelling is elegant and “magical,” the characters are well developed and distinct, each having their own backstory in addition to the experiences they share as siblings, co-conspirators, and lovers. There is enough true history in the story to make it relatable and recognizable, but the author has also taken great liberties to invent an imaginary world. Harrow refers to herself as “a professional liar” and relies on the old adage that “the best lies are the ones that are based on the truth.”  This feminist adventure story is a fierce and beautiful homage to the power of women in all their forms, including the three female archetypes represented by the Eastwood sisters, the mother, the maiden, and the crone.

Here’s a book summary from Goodreads:

“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.”

Review by Leslie Mortimer, Adult Services Manager.

Click here to request a copy. 


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