Cover Image: The Once and Future Witches

The Once and Future Witches

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Member Reviews

I can't recommend this book highly enough. The story is an absolute romp - Harrow barely pauses for breath as plot twist follows plot twist. I couldn't put it down.
It's also brilliantly written. The description is perfectly judged, as is the balance between action, description and emotional inner life of the protagonists.
The themes are very much of the zeitgeist. You will find retold fairy tales, women struggling for liberation, concerns of class consciousness, anti-racism, interpersonal turmoil.
A lesbian relationship is at first hidden between parentheses.
A headstrong youngest sister searches for her destiny.
An unexpected pregnancy allows the reader to wonder about the links between witching and women's physical autonomy (and the threat this poses to the patriarchal order).

'The preacher called it the Devil's darkest work, but Mags said it was women's work, like everything else.'

There is so much packed into this book. A feminist reading would be very satisfying, but I don't want to give away the plot.

If you like stories about witches, politics, Victorian history or sisters growing into their adult selves and working out new ways to relate to one another, you will like this book.

It keeps you hooked right until the end.
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An excellent read – rounding up to 5 stars.
The three sisters whose perspectives you get to see have distinct voices, their own problems and conflicts aside from the main story, and are all interesting characters.
The cast of characters overall is quite big with all of their allies, the women’s rights association and the sisters' workplaces but it never reaches a point where you might get confused. Even minor characters are distinct enough to be memorable.
The chapters start with spells/nursery rhymes or short-form fairy tales but with a different spin that puts the witches in them in a different light.
The writing is beautiful and gets even more vivid and visceral whenever the sisters work magic.
I’m not big on reading romance plots but the two that played a role in two of the sisters’ lives were great.
Some parts of the magic system were not as clear to me as I would have liked but then again magic is a wild thing...
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I was so excited to receive this arc! I have had this book on my TBR for a while before and I am now going to buy it so that I can add it to my book collection as I absolutely loved it! I do have a love for witchy stories and this did not disappoint! A really immersive, magically story that is dark at times with brilliant writing!
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I loved reading this book so much. A story of feminism written by a women for women, showing us a cast of diverse women fighting for themselves, their sisters, their daughters, their mothers and anyone else who matters deeply to them.

Set in 1800s America, during the fight for women's suffrage, three witch sisters come together to cause trouble and help women across the country while uncovering the lost magic of their ancestors, stolen from them by men.

This book kept me gripped and entertained all the way through, I never wanted to put it down. There was moments that made me cry, feeling the deep relationship and sisterhood between the sisters of Avalon. Cannot recommend it enough
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Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review. 

Just the title had me already invested in this book. It is a beautifully written debut novel. The power of women was a strong feature in this book and how they will fight to get back the power they once had. 

I really enjoyed reading this story and it had a good mix of classic witches lore and nursery rhymes which all built into the plot. If anyone wants a different take on a feminist story then I would recommend giving this one a go.
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I loved the concept of this book, and the way the narrative hung together, bringing witching, feminism, fairy tales and folklore together.  It’s amazing for that.

But it really dragged and was hard to get into.  After about half way I started to feel more connected to it.  And I could really marvel at how the author has bought together so much in this book, the social history and the connection with women’s historical journey was excellent and a little awe inspiring. But as just a book to sit in the sofa and read I really struggled to enjoy it.

However, I must say that the author can definitely write. Maybe a little more sharp editing would have been good.
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An interesting concept linking the use of nursery rhymes and traditional stories with … well that would be telling. I enjoyed the journey and hoping there will be future adventures,
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Firstly a huge thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for granting me an ARC.

SUMMARY

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.

MY THOUGHTS

I'm not going to go into how much I adored the book, how much I loved it (I did) without first admitting that it took me longer than I would have liked to get through the first half of the book. I felt like I was becoming the Crone of the original three. Ten days it took me to read, although I'm more mad at myself for that. That said I really did enjoy reading the book and once I was past the 50% mark? Hoo boy. The second half of the book took me around 2 days max to read and I was not prepared. I mean, I was, the story was essentially leading us to what would happen but mentally I was not prepared. Physically I was not prepared. When the book hit its crescendo I felt it in my very core. It's a strange thing to feel, the sense of empowerment. I don't think I've ever reacted in such a way before. My skin tingled, my lips smiled of their own volition. I truly could not control the reaction to the way these women fought back against their oppressors and said NO. We will not be made to lay down and let you walk all over us. We will stand, united, and show you men that we are not simple women. We are witches. Also I loved that the term witches didn't only apply to the women and that they had men's magic as well. 

I loved how classic nursery rhymes became spells, classic myths became truth. The truth about who Gideon Hill really is. I won't spoil it, but suffice it to say it was cleverly done. All of the characters were amazing. I loved Juniper and her wild ways, her wild determination to bring magic back to the world and her love of the use of the word horseshit. I loved Agnes and her courage and her steel determination that her daughter would face a better world. I loved Bella and the way she transformed from a meek librarian to a force to be reckoned with. 

If, like me, you pick up this book and you find the first half of it to drag, don't put it down. Keep reading, I promise you it's worth it. 

You can find my review on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4238211747
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For me, The Once and Future Witches falls firmly into the category of "books I expected to really like but inexplicably didn't." That's OK. It happens. I don't think it's any fault of the book itself. This is a five-star read for many people. 

Taking a step back and looking at things objectively, there is much to admire about this novel. The cast of characters is almost exclusively female, which was really refreshing to see. This is also a strongly feminist tale, something all too rare in fantasy and which is very much to be championed here. 

This book wasn't quite my cup of tea, but if you enjoy a strong folk tale flavour to your fantasy, this could well be the ideal book for you. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers, Little Brown Book Group UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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A glorious amalgamation of magic, fairy tale and history, The Once & Future Witches takes the late-19th century women’s suffrage movement and reimagines it in an alternate version of America, where witchcraft has been suppressed but the ways and words survive. The central characters – sisters Juniper, Bella and Agnes – are strongly drawn and the plot is compelling, with a suitably villainous antagonist.
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In 1893, there is no such thing as witches. They have all been killed in the purges of the centuries before. But the three Eastwood sisters have the will to bring witching back. Now all they need are the words and the ways. Set against the backdrop of the Suffragette movement, the sisters must overcome their differences, their fears, and perhaps something more sinister than even their darkest dreams to find themselves, and the magic they know lies waiting.

The Eastwood sisters are a ragtag bunch of protagonists: June with her fierce ambition and biting ambition; Agnes with her suspicion and inner conflict; Bella with her paranoia and self-worth issues. In archetype, they’re all characters that I love, but in practice I had difficulty connecting to them in this book. I think something about the balance of the perspectives didn’t quite work for me, though there were plenty of moments that I loved. 

I did, however, enjoy the writing style and pacing of this book; even when I had difficulty connecting to the characters, the story pulled me in and along. The second half of the book, in particular, was difficult to put down. The reworked fairy tales scattered throughout appear at logical moments for the plot, which I enjoyed, and often contained little hints and easter eggs.

I also appreciated the queer representation in this book. Without giving too much away, the early concept of there being “women’s magic” and “men’s magic” is unpicked very neatly, with some lovable and subtle characters whose stories both do and do not hinge on their identities. 
Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ½  

Genre: Fantasy, Historical
LGBTQ+ Representation: WLW, MTF
Trigger Warnings: Torture, Burning
Would I recommend this? Yes. 
Would I read a sequel? No.
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The subject matter was right up my street, and I have seen this book around a lot on youtube and advertising so I was super excited to read this. However, it didn't live up to the hype for me.

Started with a Bang, but lost interest in this the more it went on. 
The pacing is way off with this book. I feel like it was about 100 pages too long! 
I did enjoy reading, but it was a bit tedious and slow at times - the writing was a bit too wishy-washy and whimsical for me. Too much faffing about - get to the point!

I also struggled with the amount of characters. I always find it hard to keep up with books that have too many characters, and this book was one of those! 

This book was just OK.
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There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be. “The Once and Future Witches” by Alix E. Harrow follows the story of three sisters living in New Salem in the year 1893. Juniper, Agnes and Beatrice Eastwood join the suffragists of New Salem in a quest for women’s rights. Without even realizing, they are caught in a whirl of spells, forgotten ways and shadows which turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. 
This being my first ARC, I was very excited when I started reading the book. The synopsis sounded unique and I liked the idea of a book about feminism which also incorporates witching, especially because it isn’t such a mainstream theme in fantasy books. I ended up giving this book 3/5 stars and I honestly wish I could give it more but at the same time I can’t bring myself to. There were some things I disliked and others which I thoroughly enjoyed. 
      Reading the book, I could clearly tell that that Harrow was well documented when writing, which I think is a great achievement, but for me personally I thought there was just a little too much information than needed. I enjoyed the base idea of the book: women fighting and trying to gain rights while also reconnecting with the lost ways of magic. The writing is a combination of beautiful and bizare, there are a lot of quirky word combinations such as “rose-eaten” which I found refreshingly creative. I think the reason I only gave this book 3 stars is because I personally couldn’t connect to any of the characters. Each of the three sisters represents a certain category: Juniper=the wild tomboy, Agnes=the caring mother figure, Beatrice=the wise one, yet I still felt that they weren’t developed enough. There were also a lot of other characters and at times it got confusing, becoming hard to keep track of all of them. As for the pacing, I found this book a little slow. It’s not the fact that there isn’t a lot of action, but I feel like all of the information that was put in slowed it down significantly.
      Nevertheless, I still think that The Once and Future Witches is a good book! The idea of the story is bright, it puts forward important thoughts about women’s rights and will definitely stand out between other books. It wasn’t my favorite read, but at the end, when I was reading the last page I found myself tearing up because in my opinion it was quite and impactful ending! 
      As a conclusion, here is a quote from the book which I found empowering: “A sister. A friend. A woman in want of a better world.”
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I don't know how to explain the kind of witches and witching that I have in mind when I say this, but out of all the books that I've read that have witches one way or another, this is the first one where I felt like it truly Gets It. I'm thinking of teta Pehta, a herbalist from some quite prominent tales and films where I'm from - the character many people here first think of when they hear the word "witch", and I feel like she'd get along with the witches in this book.

I really loved the whole design and execution of this book - the little spells in the beginning of chapter and how they were tangled into the chapters that followed and the story itself; some well known fairytales that made an appearance, the division into different parts - it really added to how much I enjoyed this book.

The revelation of who the villain was in truth was "!!!", I liked that a lot. The ending felt a little rushed and I think it could have been executed a little differently, but that's a personal preference. 

I also found this book very, very well written - even if I hadn0t cared for the plot or the characters (which was not the case!) I would have finished reading this AND enjoyed it simply because of how comfortably readable this author's style is.

And lastly - I really enjoyed the plotline of how the fight for women's rights was entangled with witchcraft. Though I found it to fade into the background sometimes, I still think it did the characters justice.

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book, it was one of my favourite reads this year!
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Thanks to netgalley for giving me a copy of this book to review! 

I enjoyed this one, it focused on focuses on three estranged sisters who accidentally or perhaps by fate, come together in New Salem to find information about the lost witching world at a time when it is desperately needed. The trio finds themselves together in New Salem in 1893 amidst the women’s suffrage movement. The three sisters grew up hearing stories of witches from their grandmother Mags, so they hope to use these words and ways to give power to women. This launches and drives the tale while intertwining magic, sisterhood, and the fight for equality. 

the writing itself is beautiful and immersive, and engaging, especially at the point where the women's suffrage movement meets a nascent coven. I loved how the earlier dark Salem history dovetailed at dozens of points with the New Salem history, how dire so many of these stories were. This novel is full of twists and turns. At certain points, I could see where it was going, but I was glad that I was still surprised in the end. The story is also very character driven. I loved the main cast of characters and how Harrow juxtaposes them.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for a review!

The Once and Future Witches blends the fantastical elements of the sister's magic and the world of witches together with the story of women fighting for power within a tense political state. We first meet the three sisters - Agnes, Beatrice and Juniper, caught in the midst of a suffrage march after being separated for years. The three are then reunited in order to find lost magic in their fight for their rights and also with their fight to discover who they are as witches and family. The sister's characterisation is the main reason I enjoyed the novel, as I found it to drag often and take much longer than it could do to make a point and for a scene to take place. I loved their relationship and the power they find within each other while overcoming their own individual struggles. The small short story sections pairing together with the novel were a welcome addition as I felt they paced the writing very well. I would have enjoyed the novel more if these sections were more well placed and more often tied with the story and that some moments were condensed. Saying that, I did love the prose itself which carried the magical elements of the book wonderfully. Whilst not being my usual choice, I really enjoyed this as a change in my reading and I will definitely be looking to read and pick up more of Alix E Harrow's work. I would recommend this for fans of YA fantasy as I think it presents a fresh change on the genre and blends together discussions of family, politics and magic together.
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The Once and Future Witches
Alix E Harrow

Firstly thank you to @netgalley, Little Brown Book Group UK and the Author for the ARC of this book.

#Scifi #fantasy #witches #TheOnceAndFutureWitches #Netgalley

"In 1893 there’s no such thing as witches"

The opening chapter is filled with wondrous and magical language painting a vivid picture of an otherworldly atmosphere.

"Once upon a time there were three sisters"

I’m at 16% and struggling. This book is barely holding my attention for a full chapter so far. I really hope it improves.

Currently at 42% and still struggling.

Favourite quote so far:
" ‘Rain. Rain. Go away. Come again some other day.’
- A Spell to delay a coming storm, requiring mere good luck"

Picked up around 63% starting to enjoy it now.

So yeah glad I persevered with this the story settles and starts to grip your interest.

I very much enjoyed this book from 60% onwards.

It’s a shame as I was very much excited for this book. I’m glad I stuck with it and got to the end but I don’t know if I would read it again.

A good story if you are willing and able to stick with it, I won’t lie it was hard going for me.

3 stars
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**Friday Reads**
This week I've been enjoying The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. It weaves folklore and feminism into a beautifully written and utterly spellbinding modern fairytale. Highly recommended!
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☆There's still no such thing as witches.
But there will be.☆

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.

I absolutely loved this book! It is so beautifully written, it tells the story of sisterhood, women’s rights, the fight for emancipation, it’s just so inspiring and special! And shows how powerful women can be! Although the book is quite slow paced, I still loved every page! 
I’ve always been a fan of witchy themed books and this one was just perfect! I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time!
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This book was very slow… I didn’t feel interested or engaged with the characters until about 40% of the way through when I began to feel mildly invested. However, it then came to a natural end and I was surprised to see there was still 50% of the book left. I ended up skimming through the rest and found the ending quite ridiculous.

I think it would’ve been much better as two shorter stories as it felt a bit overwritten. While the nursery rhyme idea was good, it felt unnecessary to explain what the spell was for as it was used in that chapter. One might as well read each rhyme and nothing else. A good concept that sadly didn’t quite work.
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