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.
Witty and charming, The Once and Future Witches is a novel that I know, without a doubt, will stick with me for many years to come. If I hadn’t already simply been captivated by it’s crucial theme and astounding magic system, then I would have surely been charmed by its endearing cast of characters.
I love a good character driven story and TOAFW is surely that. The Eastwood Sisters (James Juniper, Agnes, and Bella), our three main characters, were so distinct and unique in their lives and strong intriguing personalities that I couldn’t help but fall madly in love with all of them.
The journeys that all three of the sisters went through are so profound and disparate that I found myself continuously seeing a part of myself and loved ones in their spirit, in their will to fight and make a change. The relationship between the sisters and Alix’s accurate representation of sisterhood and how they were always there for each other despite their differences evoked great admiration within me.
The overall message of the novel and the fight of the suffragists is one that is so relevant to modern day that I can’t think of a greater topic to explore in a fantasy novel. And yet, I don’t think anyone could’ve done it quite as cleverly well as Alix Harrow. Her lyrical and piquant prose is one that consumes the reader so adamantly that she makes it extremely difficult to put down her work.
Her inclusion of relevant modern day issues in this world is impressively and effectively done in a way that is tactful and perceptive, delivering a powerful message of fighting for change and hope. Her way of showcasing discrimination in the novel is both eye opening and educational for many, myself included. Seeing the similarities of bigotry towards people of different skin color in the book compared to reality and their fight for equality is jolting and powerful. It certainly filled me with a sense of hope for change.
Most importantly, the witches element and the magic was…. magical. Is there a greater word to describe it? Alix’s ability of weaving a combination of folklore aspects and the suffragist movement is genius and unlike anything I’ve ever read. I genuinely was enlightened with every turn of a page and I’m sure many other readers will be as well.
Thank you to the publisher for an early copy in exchange for an honest review!