Unfamiliar Volume 1 – Haley Newsome

Planchette and her familiar, a rabbit called Winston, have just moved to a new town, one where she’s not the only witch. She hopes to meet new witchy friends.

It isn’t long before she realises why her new home was such a bargain; it turns out it’s haunted.

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Really haunted.

In her quest to exorcise her home, Planchette meets some new friends: Pinyon and Ari the pigeon, Babs and Marlow the cat, and Sun and Petra the lizard.

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The witches all have their own insecurities and backstories. Planchette can only do magic related to food. Pinyon has only just found her magic. Babs is an introverted siren. Sun is cursed.

They may not have all known each other for very long but they’re already demonstrating that their friendship is going to be supportive and caring, with each witch using their strengths to help the others.

I enjoyed meeting some of the ghosts haunting Planchette’s new home. I particularly liked how the witches are helping the ghosts move on, although I hope some stay. What’s a haunted house without the haunts?!

I didn’t realise this was Volume 1 until the story stopped quite abruptly. This series has a lot of potential. I’ll definitely be reading Volume 2.

I would very much like the instructions for pizza potion.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Based on the wildly popular webcomic from Tapas, Unfamiliar is an endearing and whimsical story full of magical mayhem, offbeat outsiders, and the power of friendships and found family. 

Young kitchen witch Planchette gets an incredible deal on a new house in a magical town. Turns out, there’s a reason: it’s haunted! After unsuccessfully attempting to get these unwanted ghosts to leave, she realises the only thing to do is to help them with their problems. Along the way, she befriends a shy siren who hates being popular, a girl battling a curse, and a magically-challenged witch from a powerful coven.

The Witch Haven – Sasha Peyton Smith

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

“Something bad is coming”

Frances Hallowell is mourning the recent death of her brother. Her life gets a lot more complicated when her super slimy boss attacks her after hours and she sorta kinda accidentally kills him. Oops!

When it looks certain that Frances is going to be convicted as a murderer, salvation comes to her by way of an ambulance. She’s told she’s very unwell and is promptly taken to Haxahaven Sanitarium to be ‘treated’. Only Haxahaven isn’t what it’s advertised to be. It’s actually a school for witches…

The premise of this book hooked me: secret witchy school, murder mystery, underdog battling the Big Bad. The reality of the book surprised me, and I’m still conflicted.

I was entirely engaged until I learned that the witchcraft that was being taught at Haxahaven was limited to producing good little wives and domestic help. I switched off a little at that point and was even able to put the book aside for a few weeks without any trouble.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to finish reading but figured I’d give it another try. I found it easy to get back into. I hadn’t forgotten who the characters were or what was happening for each of them when I pressed pause. It didn’t take me long to get into the rest of the story, the parts that didn’t involve magical bread-kneading.

While I wasn’t the hugest fan of Frances, I absolutely adored Maxine and Lena. I wanted to get to know Oliver better.

I think perhaps this is how we survive in the world. Passing little bits of our magic back and forth to each other when the world takes it from us. It’s survival. It’s love. It’s family.

Content warnings include attempted sexual assault including suffocation, domestic abuse, mental health and a character who was removed from her home and taken to a residential school. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with some scenes.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In 1911 New York City, seventeen year old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet – her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there.

Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?

Cackle – Rachel Harrison

WELCOME TO ROWAN, AMERICA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET.

Annie is newly thirty and newly single when she moves to Rowan. Recently dumped by her long term boyfriend/best friend, Annie is on her own for the first time and she’s not a fan. When she’s not teaching “hormone-addled, angst-driven evil meat sticks”, she’s hitting the bottle.

It isn’t long before Annie meets Sophie, who’s beautiful and self-assured. The people of Rowan behave differently when Sophie is around, though. It’s almost as if they’re scared of her.

“Want me to curse them for you?”

“Sure,” I say.

“Done.”

Annie loves the attention and care that Sophie lavishes on her but it made me feel claustrophobic. The relationships in this book (Annie and Sam, Annie and Sophie) are all kinds of messed up. It’s no coincidence that the first movie Sophie watches with Annie is Gaslight.

I wanted Sophie’s wardrobe and wouldn’t have said no to her home cooking but wasn’t a fan of her. To be fair, she does want Bruce to win in Jaws so she can’t be all bad, but I don’t know if I can trust someone who hates unicorns. I’m all for having the confidence to be who you truly are but if claiming your power results in an entire township being terrified of you, then that cheapens it for me.

My favourite character, Ralph, had no lines but he made up for it in personality. I’m a sucker for spiders who can pull off wearing a top hat, especially when they also have a great smile.

Overall, this was a lighter read than I was expecting but that’s not to say there weren’t some memorable lines:

My insecurity returns like a villain in a sequel. The same but worse.

I embrace the next morning with all the enthusiasm of a goat entering Jurassic Park.

Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with some scenes.

NOW LEAVING ROWAN. KEEP OUR SECRET.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

All her life, Annie has played it nice and safe. After being unceremoniously dumped by her long-time boyfriend, Annie seeks a fresh start. She accepts a teaching job that moves her from Manhattan to a small village upstate. Her new home is picturesque and perfect. The people are all friendly and warm. Her new apartment is lovely too, minus the oddly persistent spider infestation.

Then Annie meets Sophie. Beautiful, charming, magnetic Sophie, who takes a special interest in Annie, who wants to be her friend. More importantly, she wants Annie to stop apologising and start living for herself. That’s how Sophie lives. Annie can’t help but gravitate toward the self-possessed Sophie, wanting to spend more and more time with her, despite the fact that the rest of the town seems… a little afraid of her. And, okay. Sophie’s appearance is uncanny and ageless, her mansion in the middle of the woods feels a little unearthly, and she does seem to wield a certain power… but she couldn’t be… could she?

Witch 13 – Patrick Delaney

Tonight is Sterling Marsh’s final shift as sheriff. She really should have called in sick and left Drybell for the evening, preferably before the truck crashed into the bridge. Sterling and her colleagues being cut off from the outside world in the middle of one of the worst storms in Drybell’s history isn’t their biggest problem. They now also have a troublesome witch to deal with. 

There’s no such thing as witches. 

The bulk of the evening takes place inside the sheriff’s station with the witch in custody so you wouldn’t think she’d have much opportunity to create a ruckus. You’d be wrong. Sterling, Chase, her deputy, Georgia, the receptionist, Rosa, the dispatcher and Max, Chase’s seven year old son, are about to have one of the longest nights of their life. 

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this night” 

This witch looks like something out of a fairytale, donning a black dress and pointy hat. She smells sweet, but she’s anything but. 

Although it was clear based on results that she was actually doing quite a bit, she spent most of the book impersonating a statue. Part of me was fascinated by this, wondering what she’d be capable of once she started moving, but frustration took over more often than not. When I’m enjoying horror that includes people’s insides becoming their outsides, my preference is for it to be as over the top as possible. 

The witch’s backstory didn’t work for me and the ending felt rushed.

If I’d visited Drybell before the shemozzle started, I definitely would have spent some time at Hallowed Grounds Coffee.

The cover image is absolutely incredible. There are illustrations scattered throughout the book, which I loved. Although there were some wonderfully dark ones featuring the witch, my favourite was the creepy snowman.

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Content warnings include death by suicide and domestic abuse. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with some scenes.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Oblivion Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

On the eve of her resignation, Sheriff Sterling Marsh prepares for a bleak winter in Drybell, Connecticut, after a string of bad decisions leaves her life in shambles. Two weeks before Christmas and expecting a long night of paperwork and quiet celebration with the friends she’s grown to know and love, she’s surprised when an unnerving stranger appears in the form of a witch. 

A silent, menacing figure, the witch appears to be ripped straight out of a fairy tale, complete with a tall, pointed hat, and black clothing. But when strange things begin happening all over town, Sterling begins to suspect that there may be more to the witch than meets the eye.

As she works to maintain order as the world crumbles around her, the witch’s mysterious presence throws her world into a frenzy, threatening to send the sleepy town spiralling face first into the darkest night it’s ever seen.

The Splendid City – Karen Heuler

Eleanor was in the process of learning witchcraft when she turned her coworker into a cat. It doesn’t matter that her reasons were valid; she behaved in a manner most uncovenly and now she’s living with the consequences. This means she’s stuck living with said cat, whose metamorphosis didn’t magically improve his personality.

Eleanor and Stan are now in Liberty, which once upon a time was Texas. Before it seceded, that is. Now it has animatronic presidential heads and people are whisked off in vans, presumably never to be seen again. There’s nougat, which is nice, but there’s also a water shortage, which isn’t.

Eleanor has been tasked with finding a missing witch. Stan, when he’s not scrounging up fish tacos and beer, is on a treasure hunt.

I was keen to find out how a story with a witch who turns a detestable coworker into a cat would play out. I’m now wondering if I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this read.

I appreciated the political commentary and satire. I was interested in learning how witchcraft worked in this dystopia, but didn’t connect with any of the witches.

I thought I’d be amused by insufferable, newly feline Stan as he tried to make his way in the world but I hated him. It wasn’t the fun type of hate, though, where you love to hate someone. I love villains when they’re complex and especially when they’re accidentally good some of the time, but if Stan had any redeeming qualities, I didn’t find them. In the end, I didn’t want to spend any time with him.

The story is told in three parts. The second, which addresses how Eleanor became a witch and Stan became a cat, felt like one big info dump.

I’d encourage you to read the five star reviews because there are people that absolutely love this book. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the book for me.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A genre-blending story of modern witchcraft, a police state and unique characters, for fans of Alice Hoffman and Madeline Miller.

In the state of Liberty, water is rationed, free speech comes at a price, and paranoia runs deep. Eleanor, a rebellious young witch, has been put under house arrest with her lecherous co-worker Stan, who loves craft beer, fish tacos, and… shooting people.

Eleanor has little time for Stan. That’s why she turned him into a talking cat. Besides, she’s got a job to do: locate a missing witch who seems to be mysteriously linked to the water shortages. But she might want to keep an eye on Stan – he’s caught the scent of a treasure hunt, and won’t hesitate to give up Eleanor to get his paws on the prize. 

Aveline Jones #2: The Bewitching of Aveline Jones – Phil Hickes

Illustrations – Keith Robinson

“Haven’t you ever experienced something you can’t explain?” 

Aveline isn’t spending her summer break at the beach like she’d hoped. Instead, she and her mother are staying in a cottage in the sleepy village of Norton Wick.

While Aveline is initially concerned that this holiday will be boring, it turns out to be anything but. Conveniently located at the end of the garden are The Witch Stones, an ancient stone circle with mysterious origins.

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Aveline, with her love of things that go bump in the night and anything else that would be of interest to Mulder, is in her element. Harold, her friend from Malmouth, is coming to visit for a few days with his uncle and Lilian, Aveline’s aunt. 

Together, Aveline and Harold hope to solve the mysteries of the stone circle and the strange bottle Aveline found in the garden. 

Old bottles with things inside them couldn’t just be ignored. 

Before Harold arrives, Aveline makes a new friend, Hazel Browne. That’s “Browne with an e.” She also meets the local vicar, Alice, who’s fond of bowler hats and rainbow socks.

I was glad when Harold showed up because, although I was initially intrigued by Hazel, her possessiveness didn’t endear her to me at all. I never connected with her so found it difficult to see beyond her abrasiveness, even after I understood where she was coming from.

I enjoyed the magic in this book and definitely considered indulging in dessert with Aveline and Hazel. 

Aveline and Harold’s first response, regardless of the ooky spookiness they’re facing, is to find a bunch of books and do research. That affords them kindred spirit status with me for life.

I love both Aunt Lilian and Mr Lieberman, who I met in the first book, but they didn’t have much of a role in this one. I had been looking forward to getting to know Aveline’s mother but I didn’t really get much of a sense of her personality. I hope to get to know the adults better in the next book.

I absolutely adored Keith Robinson’s illustrations in this book. The cover image was dark, mysterious and creepy. I particularly loved the magpie featured at the beginning of each chapter.

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Although I definitely got sucked into the mystery of the first book more than this one, I love Aveline and can’t wait to hang out with her and Harold again in The Vanishing of Aveline Jones

“Everything’s creepy as far as you’re concerned, Aveline”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Turn on your torches and join Aveline Jones!

Aveline is thrilled when she discovers that the holiday cottage her mum has rented for the summer is beside a stone circle. Thousands of years old, the local villagers refer to the ancient structure as the Witch Stones, and Aveline cannot wait to learn more about them.

Then Aveline meets Hazel. Impossibly cool, mysterious yet friendly, Aveline soon falls under Hazel’s spell. In fact, Hazel is quite unlike anyone Aveline has ever met before, but she can’t work out why. Will Aveline discover the truth about Hazel, before it’s too late?

Join the world of Aveline Jones, where mysteries are solved, spirits are laid to rest, and everybody gets to bed on time.

Diary of an Accidental Witch #2: Flying High – Perdita & Honor Cargill

Illustrations – Katie Saunders

Bea starts her second diary at the beginning of November, on the first day of half-term. It’s only fifty days until Winter Solstice, which is the “longest and witchiest night of the year”. Before that, though, the students at the School of Extraordinary Arts will be participating in the Grand Tournament, which is “only the biggest, SPORTIEST day in the witchy calendar!”

Bea has learned a lot since we first met her. Our witch-in-training is getting better at flying and her levitation skills are improving.

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Her incantations may also, well, she needs to find words that rhyme with ‘piggle’ before we discover how she’s faring with those.

There’s still an us and them mentality in Little Spellshire, with Witches and Ordinaries staying well away from one another. This makes it awkward for Bea because, coming from a family of Ordinaries but training to be a witch, Bea has a foot in each world. She’s also friends with Ash, the Ordinary next door, but can’t tell him she’s a witch, no matter how much she wants to. 

‘Those of us who know, know and those of them who don’t, can’t.’ 

Something’s going on with Ash as well and Bea means to ask him what it is, really she does, but she’s just so busy. She needs to prepare for both the Grand Tournament and the Winter Solstice, and take care of Stan and Egg. And there’s homework to do too. 

I enjoyed this book just as much I did the first in the series. With a focus on friendships and breaking down the barriers between people, this was a fun read that also included some sage advice. 

“Friendships are a bit like eggs you know, Bea. They can be fragile. Best to look after them carefully.” 

Katie Saunders’ illustrations bring Bea’s diary to life. I particularly loved the froggy pictures and the ones that showcase the fashionistas that are Bea’s School of Extraordinary Arts’ friends.

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I’m looking forward to next term. There’s going to be a residential trip for Year Seven students and a new teacher to meet. I don’t know about you but a geography teacher who is a “world expert on caves, lairs and unexplained snares” sounds like someone I need to befriend, if only so I’m invited along for their adventures.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Little Tiger Group, an imprint of Stripes Publishing, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Monday 1st November

There’s only fifty days until the Winter Solstice, the longest and witchiest night of the year. But before that there’s the Grand Tournament – the biggest and sportiest day in the witchy calendar! And I can’t wait!

Bea Black is all settled into her new life in Little Spellshire, a town with a magical secret. She’s made tonnes of friends at witch school, learned how to levitate frogs (just about) and been working hard on polishing up her broom skills. So when the Winter Solstice Grand Tournament rolls round, she’s ready to rise to the next challenge and fly high.

But then Ms Sparks decides that this year’s tournament will be a bit … er … different. That is, it won’t be an Extraordinary Grand Tournament at all, but rather a very ordinary sports day with Spellshire Academy! With magic firmly forbidden and rivalry reaching new heights, who will emerge victorious? And more importantly, will Bea’s friendship with her best non-witchy friend Ash survive the competition?

Diary of an Accidental Witch – Perdita & Honor Cargill

Illustrations – Katie Saunders

“It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where you end up that counts”

Eleven year old Bea Black has just moved to Little Spellshire, UK (AKA, the middle of nowhere) with her father, a weather scientist. She’s supposed to be attending Spellshire Academy with Ashkan (Ash), her new next door neighbour and only friend, but Bea’s father accidentally enrolled her in Spellshire’s other school.

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The Spellshire School for Extraordinary Arts is a school like no other, where physics involves levitation, English is “Incantations and the Language of Spells” and sport involves broomsticks.

“HARD WORK AND FOCUS and you’ll be flying in no time! Flying – hahaha! But remember: don’t tell a soul. Those of us who know, know and those of them who don’t, can’t.”

Bea, who is Ordinary, spends most of her breaks hiding in the broom cupboard with Stan the frog. She can’t wait for her father to finally arrange her transfer to the school she’s supposed to be attending. Until then, try as she might, Bea fails “TRAGICALLY at all things witchy”.

I really enjoyed this book and am trying to figure out how I can enrol myself in this school. Beside the whole witch thing and the opportunity to perfect spells, I’m always in favour of having legitimate excuses to wear a cape.

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Be on the lookout for bats on a sugar high and spiders who can weave pictures. I definitely need to master the “hair-colour-changing trick spell”.

Best homework assignment ever:

Make a model of a medieval witch castle including potion laboratory, high walls for protection from Ordinaries, magical moat, Great Banqueting Hall and broomstick landing pad.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Little Tiger Group, an imprint of Stripes Publishing, for the opportunity to read this book. I’m looking forward to continuing this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Monday 20th September

I’M AT WITCH SCHOOL! Now would be a really good time to discover I can do magic…

Bea Black has just moved to Little Spellshire, a town with a magical secret. When her dad accidentally enrols her at the local witch school, she has to get to grips with some interesting new classes, like, NOW! Also on her to do list? Make friends, look after the grumpy class frog AND do everything humanly magically possible to stay on a broom…

But with the Halloween Ball on the horizon, will she be able to master her wand skills in time to WOW? And more importantly can she keep her newfound magical abilities a secret from dad?

The Witches: The Graphic Novel – Pénélope Bagieu

Roald Dahl was my favourite author when I was a kid. I’ve read four of his books so many times over the years I’ve lost count: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and The Witches. I could also pretty much ruin each of the movies (the originals, if they‘ve been remade) for you by telling you every line before they happen.

I loved searching for witches when I was a kid. Sure, I knew that this story was fiction but it was fun to play ‘what if’ and check to see if women walking past me were wearing gloves or scratching their head, or if their teeth had a slight bluish tinge.

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Although I was really interested in reading this graphic novel adaptation, I was nervous about it too. I’m a bit of a purist where childhood favourites are concerned; while I’m mostly okay with minor changes, I don’t want you to mess with my cherished childhood memories.

I’m happy to report that the story I know and love remains intact here. Sure, there are some changes but none that make me want to point at a specific page number in the original book and demand that it be changed back because it ruined the story.

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I’m sure I’ve missed some because it’s been a few years since I last read The Witches but the changes I noticed straight away were:

  • The story takes place in England, not Norway
  • Grandmamma and her grandson aren’t white (loving this!)
  • Bruno Jenkins is a girl, whose name I still don’t know. Her surname is Jenkins and she has much better lines than Bruno did
  • The Grand High Witch now says “remove” rather than “rrree-moof” and “wigs” instead of “vigs”
  • Formula 86 is hidden in a different location in the Grand High Witch’s room
  • There’s gambling at the hotel (whose name has changed) and mention of yoga and organic food
  • Grandmamma’s conversation with the Jenkins’ has a different outcome and happens at a different time in the story
  • Grandmamma ends up going into the kitchen to find her grandson rather than him meeting her back in the dining room
  • The Jenkins family now stays in touch with Grandmamma and her grandson.

There were only a couple of things from the novel that I missed in the graphic novel. While the story of the girl in the painting is explained well in the graphic novel, the other early witch stories are only mentioned briefly. Also missing was Grandmamma telling her grandson how many beats per minute a mouse’s heart beats (500!). Neither impacts the story at all. They were simply a couple of my favourite bits as a kid.

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As a decades long Roald Dahl fan, I wholeheartedly approve of this adaptation. Besides the story remaining true to form, I also loved the illustrations. The Grand High Witch looked different unmasked than she does in my memory of the book and original movie but she was fantastic nonetheless.

I definitely need more Roald Dahl graphic novel adaptations.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Witches are real, and they are very, very dangerous. They wear ordinary clothes and have ordinary jobs, living in ordinary towns all across the world – and there’s nothing they despise more than children. When an eight-year-old boy and his grandmother come face-to-face with the Grand High Witch herself, they may be the only ones who can stop the witches’ latest plot to stamp out every last child in the country!

This full-colour graphic novel edition of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, adapted and illustrated by Eisner Award winner Pénélope Bagieu, is the first-ever Dahl story to appear in this format. Graphic novel readers and Roald Dahl fans alike will relish this dynamic new take on a uniquely funny tale. 

The Once and Future Witches – Alix E. Harrow

Spoilers Ahead! (in the content warnings)

Once there were three sisters.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January was my favourite read of 2019 and The Once and Future Witches is my favourite read of 2020. I know there are still plenty of pages to fall in love with this year but trust me, friends, this is the one!

The wise one, the strong one and the wild one. There’s a bit of each of us in at least one of the Eastwood sisters; hopefully all three. This is a story of sisters and suffragists. Of fairytales and the power of words. Of survival and sacrifice. Of transforming the story you were given into a better one. Of “witchcraft most wicked”.

The wayward sisters, hand in hand,

Burned and bound, our stolen crown,

But what is lost, that can’t be found?

Sometimes you read a book that feels like it was written with you in mind. Sometimes characters will draw you into their world and you feel like they’re kin or, at the very least, kindred spirits. Sometimes a story speaks to your soul in such a way that when you lift your head after the final page you are certain you grew wings while you were reading. That’s just some of what this book was for me.

I want to ramble about characters, surprises and heartbreaks, love found and battles waged but, consistent with other books that have so deeply worked their magic on me, this review is more personal. Sorry if this isn’t the review you were looking for.

Don’t forget what you are.

As I read I felt my spine straightening. My will strengthened. My courage blazed. My heart opened, warming and knitting itself together, even as it broke. My tears threatened many times before the inevitable ugly cry (it was so ugly!). This was the perfect book for me at the perfect time.

I made a deal with myself weeks before I started reading. I had a really difficult task ahead of me and I wanted this book to be my reward for completing it. Not allowing myself to dive in before I won my battle was its own special brand of torture but knowing the witches were waiting for me spurred me on. Being able to finally immerse myself in the lives of Agnes, Bella and Juniper was worth the wait. And then some.

I now have a task equal, if not greater, to face than the one that preceded it but this book has fortified me and given me the courage I need to shine a light on the next shadow on my path.

Together they dared to dream of a better world, where women weren’t broken and sisters weren’t sundered and rage wasn’t swallowed, over and over again.

I can’t wait until someone I know has read this book so I can get all gushy about the specifics. Until that time, a warning: if you see me out in the wild, prepare yourself. Our interaction is likely to consist of me emphatically telling you to “Read this book!” as I shove it in your face. Protect your nose accordingly.

“Maleficae quondam, maleficaeque futurae.”

Content warnings include “Child abuse, both physical and psychological; parental death; arrest and imprisonment; mind control; pregnancy and childbirth, including forced hospitalization; racism; sexism; homophobia, both external and internalized; threat of sexual assault, averted; torture (mostly off-the-page, but alluded to); execution (attempted); child abandonment; major character death.” The author lists these on Goodreads. I’m adding to these the mention of abortion, on page death of an animal, physical abuse of an animal and sexual harassment.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Orbit, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group, for the opportunity to fall in love with this book early.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

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.