This is a straight-up witchy feast. It centres around descendants of the famous Bishop witches of North America (Bridget Bishop being the first person executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials in 1692) and explores the divergent paths a witch might take; working to heal or harm.
It’s set in the late 19th century, there’s a visit to the UK and some Jane Austen-esque adventures there, there’s a lovely relationship between the protagonist Annis and her aunt Harriet which involves the passing down of witchy knowledge through the generations, and there’s the problematic stepmother, Frances – also a witch. Normally I don’t like the evil stepmother troupe – it feels like a patriarchal ploy to me – but in this case, the character of Frances isn’t treated one-dimensionally and there’s a great scene that explores the treatment of women in asylums at that time (truly horrific) and the ways in which women can rally when entire systems are working against them, in support of one another. That thread in the story added a dimension to the story that I really appreciated.
If you like witchy adventures and magic, this one is well worth exploring (and Lousie Morgan has plenty of other witchy stories in her collection for you to explore after that). If you liked Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy (starting with ‘A Discovery of Witches’) this will be right up your alley.
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