TITLE : The Once And Future Witches
AUTHOR : Alex E. Harrow
GENRE : Adult Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal
FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4 – 4.5 Stars)
DATE OF PUBLISHING : October 13th 2020
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Redhook for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
The Once And Future Witches is my first book by Alex E. Harrow. I haven’t read her debut novel, Ten Thousand Doors Of January. But I have seen a lot of raving reviews for it and, I knew I needed to check out her feministic story of justice and women’s rights movements with witching to aid the cause. It is a story told from the perspective of the three Eastwood sisters, and we get to know them intimately through the novel as it unfolds. The three estranged sisters come together in New Salem at a suffragist’s march, pulled by ancient witching. They want to make the fight for women’s rights count and decide to find out the forgotten ways and words to bring back the long-lost powers of the witching. As they move forward with their plans, strange shadows stalk and hunt them, putting roadblocks to stop their plans. While they are planning the witch movement to take down the male-dominated system, they also have to figure out a way to communicate with one another to resolve the broken bonds between them. The book tells the story of sisterhood, fighting for justice, and women’s rights movements all woven together to bring forth a wonderfully crafted character-driven novel.
The novel is a slow-paced book with the primary focus on the characters. The book took some time to get into because of the pacing. It also took some time to establish the main characters. But if you are patient and keep on reading it, you will enjoy it as you move forward. I loved seeing the characters talk about their life and showing us their separate journeys to the present times. It also helps us to understand the context of their estrangements. Each sister had to go through difficult circumstances where they felt like they had no choice but to fight for their survival. These actions made each of them resent the other person. While the resentment and broken promises were left to grow, the love they had for each other was more than the hate and hurt.
Each character had a distinct personality and unique strengths that helped them survive in life. I thought the characters were well-defined, and I loved how their different yet distinct voices stood out in the story. I admired how they came together and helped fight a corrupt system. I enjoyed seeing the development of the characters and found myself rooting for them as the story progressed. I got invested in their life and the outcomes of their actions. I started caring for them and wanting to succeed. The characters were diverse and brought unique aspects to the plot. The power of unity and sisterhood shines through the book. It is by sheer force of their determination to challenge the male-dominated system that they plan their every move. Despite the hardships they faced, they were determined and set in their plan of action. I wanted to remind the readers to take the time to get to know the characters, and because they are flawed, you will find yourself wanting to shake some sense into them at times. The characters will start to grow on you, and as great as their separate journeys are, the times when they came together as a group was amazing to see. We see them set aside their differences and work together in unity to destroy the system that oppresses women.
There were words of witching in the form of rhymes, and some familiar stories retold that were fascinating. I loved the witchy retellings that the author added to the book. It looks at some of the well-known tales from a fresh angle, and I found them to be quite interesting, and the unique perspective added value to the book. The writing is beautiful, and the lyrical quality to it made it a compelling read for me.
If you love slow-paced historical fantasy fiction with paranormal elements featuring strong female characters, then definitely check this book out. As I mentioned before, it’s a character-driven story with strong themes of sisterhood, justice, survival, and fight for women’s rights. I gave it 4-4.5 stars. The book was a unique reading experience, and I had a good time reading it. I enjoyed the imperfect characters, witchy, and spooky vibes the book had. The captivating reading experience, the atmospheric and gritty setting the book provided were also some of the attractions of this book. I loved the overall lingering feelings the book gave me. I am for sure going to check out Alex’s debut book soon.
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.