Hello Bookish Folk!
Today I’m happy to be sharing with you my review of Alix E. Harrow’s second book The Once and Future Witches. I would firstly like to thank Orbit for approving an eArc of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
You can order this book through any of the affiliate links attached to this page, in case you don’t know Bookshop.Org is a great store that supports independent book stores from all over.
A few facts about this book:
- Title: The Once and Future Witches
- Author: Alix E. Harrow
- Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
- Series: Standalone
- Published by Orbit
- Pages: 516
- Narration Length: 16 hrs and 3 mins
Here are a few things you can expect from :
- A lush and powerful historical fantasy;
- The most engaging and fascinating trio of sisters you could read about;
- Themes of family, sisterhood, love, forgiveness and so much more;
- An incredibly immersive and atmospheric setting; and
- An amazing story which is winding, wonderful and a pure delight to read.
On to the full review…
I must confess I actually avoided this book like the plague, I read the blurb and was sold, I though yes I want to read this but every time I was choosing my next read I reread the blurb but never chose it. I don’t know why but alas I picked it up and I am so sooo glad I did. I think I enjoyed this as much as I did because it was totally fitting to my mood at the time, though that isn’t to say this book isn’t incredible in its own right. See being a mood reader isn’t always bad because when you do it correctly you find books like this and enjoy the experience of reading it so much.
I always love the idea of a historical setting in a book and get so excited for them, but they are not always done well. This is not the case for The Once and Future Witches at all. Harrow has done incredible work to really give you that feeling you are in New Salem in the 1890’s, you feel the injustice in the air and the fear of witches. Though, that is not all, Harrow has also done exceptionally well to build a solid setting through the factories, the houses and less than lavish accommodations some people were forced to live in, and the mindset of the people at that time.
This book is a tale about gaining the vote for women and what happens when these women stood up and said they wanted change, but it is also empowering, and witchy and ohh so good. Harrow has done such an incredible job in The Once and Future Witches at blending the magical and the historical while infusing it with folklore and a whole lot of witchy. Every page of this books is written superbly, it is a very enchanting read, though not in a whimsical and magical way but in a hypnotic and addictive way. It fully immerses you into its world and its people. It is so vivid and thought provoking too.
The pace of this book, in my opinion was great, Harrow knows how to continually raise the stakes. I loved the way this story was laid out in it entirety. It is by no means a fast paced plot but with such incredible character development and world-building the slower pace is by no means problematic nor lacking in tension, suspense or anticipation. It is a winding and wonderful story.
This book follows three incredible sisters; Beatrice Belladonna Eastwood, Agnes Amaranth Eastwood and James Juniper Eastwood. All of whom are utterly distinctive and have their own voices. Harrow has done an incredible job at making sure you, as a reader, can tell who is talking without mention of a name! They are so distinctive and each is so fun. No one falls beneath the other, there isn’t a boring one or one you like the least, they all stand up in their own rights. The sisters and the people they slowly come to form relationships with go from strength to strength in this book, even the side/support characters are memorable and a joy to be around.
The Once and Futures Witches has themes of family, sisterhood, love, forgiveness and so much more. It is a powerful novel and a wonder to read. Harrow has also written some lovely romantic interests in this book, I won’t say whom because they enters spoiled territory in my eyes but know they are wholesome and you will be rooting for them! It is subtle and well presented.
I really loved the insertion of common fairytales into this book. At the start of each chapter you have a tale, one you may know of or one you may not. Some are reimagined and some stand as we know them but it was so fun to see them as spells.
Also, hats off to the cover art on this one, it is so appropriate to the tale and reminds me of the little herbal grimoire pictures of fresh lavender sprigs and nettle. It is the perfect start of your reading journey and sets the tone of the book brilliantly.
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I wold most definitely grab this book in HARDBACK and I have even spotted a copy on BookShop.Org (its cheaper than Amazon, so winning). The Once and future Witches is an amazing historical fantasy book that is so much more than the words on its pages. It is a book with big themes and so much to show you.