The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – A Review

Hi! How are you? I thought after a downer of the last review (which was for Addie LaRue), I’ll post one I absolutely loved – just to balance it out. So here it is – The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – a book that has been out for nearly a month and is not getting the praise it deserves!

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  • Publication date: October 13th 2020
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group Limited
  • Genre: Historical fantasy

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.

Alix E. Harrow did it again! And now I’m forever convinced I will read everything she ever writes, although I was quite sure of that after reading her debut novel.

The Once and Future Witches had me enchanted from the first page. Set in the late 1800s at the brink of the suffragette movement, it’s a story of three estranged sisters, Agnes, Bella and Juniper, who are brought back together in strange circumstances. It’s a beautiful, atmospheric and feminist tale of sisterly bonds, witchery and women’s rights.

Harrow’s writing is impeccable. It’s just the right amount of flowery, without being lofty and overdone. Considering it’s only her second book, it’s very impressive as she seems to have found her style and voice already.

I love all three sisters equally. It’s not often I get attached to every character in the story, I usually have my favourites, but it’s really hard to pick a favourite out of Agnes, Bella and Juniper. All three sisters are vastly different and fascinating in their own way. Most of the secondary characters are female, too, and together they make for a greatly diverse and strong ensemble.

Give me anything witchy and I’ll read it. I have a soft spot for magic of any kind and witchy stories. The Once and Future Witches is so much more, though. It’s about women who are fed up of being silenced, objectified, judged, harassed… you name it. It’s feminist in the best way – inclusive of ALL, no matter their race, sexuality or biological sex (although Harrow acknowledges how it was perceived in the past, and for some until this day). The family dynamics and sisterly bond between the three protagonists was just the cherry on top.

I don’t understand why so many people are sleeping on this book. I deserves more hype – it’s absolutely fantastic. All the stars for The Once and Future Witches!!!

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Have you read The Once and Future Witches yet? Is it on your radar? If not, you definitely should pick it up – trust me!

As always, thank you for reading!

Most Anticipated Releases of the Last Quarter of 2020

Hi! I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again. And by that time of the year, I mean the time for a most anticipated releases post. 2020 has simultaneously been the longest and shortest year of my life, don’t ask me how that’s possible – it just is.

Today I have 10 releases spread through the months of October, November and December – the dates correspond to UK release dates, and looking back at them most are hardbacks, which are not my preferred format. But we will deal.

The Devil and the Dark Water

Release date: October 1st

Stuart Turton, the author of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, is back with yet another historical mystery. This one is set on a ship, in the 17th century and sounds spooky and atmospheric, it is about the devil after all… or is it? I am expecting to love it as much as I loved Evelyn. I also think it’s going to be incredibly smart and mysterious. Can’t wait to pick it up!

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Release date: October 6th

A sequel to Dear Martin! Do I need to say more? In case you are clueless about these books, do yourself a favour and look them up. Both Dear Martin and Dear Justyce’s protagonists are Black teens. Both deal with police brutality, racism, racial profiling, prejudice. I already know that both are important reads, even though I have not read this one yet. I am glad so many more books about unfair treatment of minorities are being released as we all need to be more aware of what is happening in the world and how absolutely bullshit it is. Thanks for coming to my TED talk. Pick up Dear Justyce on October 6th!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Release date: October 6th

A new book by Schwab about a girl who makes a deal with the devil and ends up immortal and NO ONE remembers her… Until someone does. I’m going to be real with you… it’s historical. I’ve heard it was slow paced. And also there is a romance at the forefront. So, overall it doesn’t sound like exactly my thing. Yet, Schwab is my queen so you know I’ll be picking it up and reading it asap. I just hope my extra high expectations, despite knowing it might not be my kind of book, won’t make me disappointed. I guess time will tell.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Release date: October 13th

Can we appreciate this gorgeous cover? As the title suggests, this one is about witches. It’s also historical – this fall seems to have nearly exclusive historical fiction blend releases. Honestly, I don’t know much about it, but I have an arc of this one so expect a review on the release date. I am excited because I read and loved The Ten Thousand Doors of January and just know this one will be as good if not better.

God Storm by Coco Ma

Release date: October 20th

Finally, a sequel to Shadow Frost! Coco Ma is a talented young writer and I am looking forward to returning to this fantasy world. The first book had a lot of potential, and I really enjoyed most parts of it and I’m curious to see how Ms. Coco matures with each and every book.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Release date: October 27th

Another witchy, spooky story. You know I have a type. This one centers around twin sisters who are witches. When one of them is brutally murdered, the other decides to seek revenge. It sounds great. I’ve only read one book by Kerri Maniscalco, but I’m looking forward to reading more from her. I will be returning to the Stalking Jack the Ripper series eventually, but this seems more up my alley.

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Release date: November 17th

Ooooh, I CANNOT wait for this one. I love Brandon Sanderson and so far every book in The Stormlight Archive was a huge hit for me. This one is a chunky one, as all his books, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s a bit intimidating, so I probably will be picking it up on audio. But I’ll definitely be reading it this year!

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

Release date: November 17th

Big day for fantasy releases on November 17th! The Burning God, which I believe is the finale of the Poppy War trilogy, is out and I don’t expect it to be anything less than absolutely brutal, bloody and amazing. I’m currently in the middle of book 2 and really enjoying it. The magic system is fantastic, it’s edge-of-the-seat exciting and… brutal for the lack of a better word. If you’re a fantasy lover, give this one a go.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Release date: December 3rd

While I didn’t LOVE LOVE LOVE Karen M. McManus’ other books, I think they are solid YA mystery/thrillers. This one sounds incredibly promising – it’s about family secrets and a group of cousins working at a mysterious estate of their grandmother’s. I’m really looking forward to reading it – I am taking part in The Write Reads Tour for The Cousins so I’ll definitely be reading and reviewing it around the release date!

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

Release date: December 10th

And last but definitely not least – A Sky Beyond the Storm – the finale of An Ember in the Ashes series. It’s been a while since I read the first book and I think a reread is due before I pick up the last book, as I’m a bit rusty on the details. The first 3 books were very solid 4/5 stars and I’m impressed by the detailed world building and great character arcs. I can’t wait to find out how this all ends.

These are the 10 books I’m looking forward to the most in the last quarter of the year. Are any of these on your list, too? Did I miss any? Let me know!

Thank you for reading. I will talk to you all soon!