The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Publisher/date: Redhook, Oct. 13, 2020
Genre: Fiction; Alternative History
I wish that I was a better writer myself, so that I could guarantee that what I write here would make you read this book. READ THIS BOOK! You won't regret it!!!
Set in the late 1800's after the Salem Witch Trials, 3 sisters find each other after escaping a violent home. They discover that there exists a Tower, a beacon of magic and hope for a better future for women, and they attempt to find it again in order to distribute and spread the power amongst their fellow women.
This is my 68th book this year and it's one of the BEST I've read. WOW. Want to feel like a goddess in your own skin? Like you're ready to lift up all of your fellow women with the power of your combined awesomeness? Read THIS!
"It's a risk just to be a woman, in my experience. No matter how healthy or hardworking she is."
How is a book set in the 1800's still so applicable today? There are 3 sisters. They are themselves diverse - a mother, a maiden, a crone. Any aged woman would feel at home reading this book. And then when they discover the original mother, maiden, and crone, they find that those women are NOT sisters, that they are a diverse group themselves.
Our maiden is fierce and vicious and brash, everything a YA heroine should be.
"You know the Mother herself started all sorts of trouble, in the stories. I wish...' Her voice lowers. 'I think it might have been better for us if we'd had a more troublesome mother."
Our mother is fierce and protective and cautious but brave. All mothers will see themselves in her.
"I am terrified and terrible. I am fearful and something to be feared. She meets Miss Araminta's eyes, dark and knowing, sharp and soft, and thinks maybe every mother is both things at once."
And our crone is bookish and wise, sometimes is buried in her books, but draws power deep from her knowledge.
"She thought survival was a selfish thing, a circle drawn tight around your heart. She thought the more people you let inside that circle the more ways the world had to hurt you, the more ways you could fail them and failed in turn. But what if it's the opposite, and there are more people to catch you when you fall? What if there's an invisible tipping point somewhere along the way when one becomes three becomes infinite, when there are so many of you inside that circle that you become hydra-headed, invincible?"
Our crone's love interest is a black woman whose magic is different from hers. Their union brings the two groups of women, segregated as they are in that day, together in a united vision of betterment. There will be a trans woman somewhere...I won't tell you where, because that would ruin it. And we have the male ally who loves the mother - who is not the father of her child but wants to be.
I often complain about a book being "white bread boring." Full of whitewashed characters, completely unlike the diverse and colorful world we live in. I am thrilled to say that this is not one of those books. Every character is interesting and adds to the story. Each a piece of the puzzle that makes a beautiful picture. A fierce one.
Not to mention that it's full of little twisted mini-tales. Children's stories twisted into darker versions - or should I say twisted back into something more similar to what they started out as.
And the pockets in the dresses! Woe to the pockets in the dresses!!!
5/5, would read again, would recommend to anyone, will most definitely read the author's next work of fiction.