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The Once and Future Witches

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Member Reviews

In my opinions this was a perfect story about witches. This novel is a story of sisterhood, politics and power. It was completely absorbing and the perfect fantasy. It revolved around historical events which I loved and the pace was absolutely perfect to suit this story. I loved this book that much im afraid to say anything that could be a potential spoiler! One thing I’ll say is it was great how the three main sisters the Eastwoods, weren’t part of the higher society which we normally see throughout novels about witches, it makes it all the more relatable to readers while we dive head first into this new world. A truly empowering book and a definite re-read.
Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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Thank you NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was very excited to receive a copy of this book and began reading straight away, for the first half of the book, I was really interested in the story and the sisters and couldn’t put the book down however, I found the book lost my attention midway through due to information dumps diluting the story and slowing the pace of the book considerably.

I loved the writing style and the main characters, especially Cleo and the topic of women’s rights, I just feel that the book could have been a 100 pages shorter and would not have lost any of the magic of the story.

This is my opinion of the book and I do think that readers who enjoy narrative heavy stories will love this.

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I was so excited to have the opportunity to read this book. But unfortunately it didn't deliver. I enjoyed the first half of the book, but I didn't feel any connection to the story or the characters
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the early copy!

I have seen a few reviewers say this book is quite slowly paced, and that is perhaps true, but for a reason - it builds up the world, and readies you for the plot!  I have really enjoyed reading this one - I loved the writing style, the characters and the storyline.  

It's a fun read, not the ususal all-the-samey outline.

Can't wait to get a physical copy!
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3.75 stars
There are so many things I really loved about The Once and Future Witches . The prose is vivid, lush and enchanting and the writing style used really fills your mind with the images of the world of this book. The plot is unique and was quite unlike anything I had read before. I liked the characters too; the three sisters, Juniper, Beatrice (also called Bella) and Agnes had a unique bond.

But unfortunately, the pacing of this book was very slow. For the first 100 pages, almost nothing happens and I couldn't connect to any of the characters. Only after the second quarter of the book, I was able to connect to the sisters. As much as I loved the flowery language, it further dragged down the pacing off this book and I had difficulty in trying to finish it.

I think part of the problem is that this book was pretty hyped for me, so in some ways, I think that affected me as I read it. But nevertheless, I think it's a pretty great read, but the pacing issues might be a problem for people as they read this.
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What is it that makes the difference between a decent book and a really excellent one?  Probably some sort of special combination of factors that will be different for every reader.  I found myself thinking about this as I prepared my review of 'The Once and Future Witches', the second novel by Alix E Harrow.  Because I feel fairly unenthusiastic about the book, despite not being able to identify any serious failings in it.  I feel like I should have loved it - but I didn't.  It's not a bad book  - I've still given it a (low) four stars.  I was happy enough reading it.  But something just didn't quite work for me.

The novel is set in an alternate version of 1890s USA, where magic is real and the fear and hatred of witches (and by extension, all women) remains strong.  Three estranged sisters are drawn together in the city of New Salem by a spell that appears to have the power to summon a black tower out of nowhere.  The reunited siblings tentatively rebuild their relationships and become involved in the women's suffrage movement.  It becomes clear that votes for women are not going to be easily come by, and resorting to magic might be the only way to overcome those who oppress them.  

The story is told from the perspectives of the three sisters, moving between them in different sections.  The writing is easy to read although Harrow often employs the technique of repetition.  That can be very effective in storytelling but it's something I usually find annoying, and did here.  Even the constant use of both of the names (first and middle) of the sisters got on my nerves by halfway through.  There's plenty of action, with one event after another, and yet it feels quite slow and long.  I can't explain why.  It's not overly wordy - other than the repetition thing - and there aren't any subplots I'd remove or areas I could obviously suggest to shorten it.  I think it is simply that something I can't define about the writing grated on me, and made it feel like harder work than it should.

The characters didn't help.  I found all three of the sisters hard to warm to.  They weren't exactly dislikeable, but they definitely weren't loveable either.  That lack of strong emotional investment in the characters is probably why I finished the book feeling oddly disappointed and puzzled by why I hadn't enjoyed it more.  It's a shame because I really loved Harrow's first novel, and remember the characters in that were really likeable.  So the author's definitely capable of writing a story that appeals to me.  

Ultimately, it's hard to know whether to recommend the book or not.  I feel that my lukewarm feelings about it are just down to personal taste and others will probably love it.  I'd still recommend it to fantasy fans.  If you are less keen on the genre, or very short on reading time, for me it's not excellent enough to warrant precious reading time on (her first book 'The Ten Thousand Doors of January' probably is though).  But all that said, I'll still be happy to read Harrow's next novel.
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Alix E Harrow tells such a fantastic story of feminism in The Once and Future Witches. I was a bit hesitant going into this book but it proved to be such a fantastic read! 

Set in Salem 1883, almost 200 years after the witch trials we follow 3 sisters who are brought together again, and their  journeys in a very misogynistic world as they began the fight to reclaim their power.

Such important themes of womanhood and family flowed through the story. One can't help but fall in love with the characters and their strength.

The author pays homage to the power of woman in all forms and I loved how each of the Eastwood sisters represented a different archetype. Alix's storytelling is magical , as she effortlessly weaves in folklore and fairytales into the book.

The reader can definitely tell this was a well researched book, Alix does such a great job of incorporating, history, politics and many social issues of the time. 
The magic system and world building were simply delightful to read about, but I may be a little biased as I love witch themed books!! 

A little slow paced and draggy at times but the book was still an incredibly enjoyable read.
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I went into this book with a lot of excitement and a little bit of apprehension because Ten Thousand Doors of January was one of my favourite read of 2019. But when I started reading, a little bit of that apprehension went away with the beautiful writing of Alix E Harrow. 
We are introduced to the three Eastwood sisters, June, Agnes and Bella who have all been separated but chance to come upon one another in New Salem amidst a Suffragette march. Their meeting precipitates events that lead them to reclaim the lost words and ways of witches while trying to work together and forget old wounds. 
I have tried to keep the summary as vague as possible so that people reading it can go in with as little spoilers as possible. 
Alix E Harrow manages to set the scene in 1800s within the first few chapters and the writing gives you the perfect  atmospheric witchy vibes you go in expecting almost immediately.  The author’s love for storytelling is evident in the writing and how she weaves in folklore, fairytales and nursery rhymes soo perfectly into the narrative is commendable. 
This is mostly a character driven narrative where a distinct voice is created for all three sisters with their own individual but intertwined histories and struggles. The character development you see over the course of the narration is incredible and I was completely,  emotionally invested in each and every one of the characters by the end. 
But the pace of the narration suffered in the meantime as sometimes the plot dragged, especially the first half, to make time for the necessary developments in characters or to set up the relationships between the characters. 
But I can hardly complain because the ending made up for all of it! The finale had all the emotional gut wrenching heart soaring excitement I needed and I was sobbing so hard at the end that I couldn’t see through my tears to read. 
I would highly recommend this tale of sisterhood in all it’s many forms for its inclusiveness, perfect witchy vibes,  the beautiful lyrical writing of Harrow and the incredible female characters it presents to us in all their glory. Do not miss this!!!!! And preorder it right now!!
Rating : 4.5 stars
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I have to be honest here, a book about witches was an easy choice...but this cover had me drooling and I am happy to report that the story inside is just as beautiful. I loved this book so much. Fantasy, historical romance, with a sprinkling of fairytale and witchy goodness all rolled into one. 

The writing of this book was pure lyrical and poetic. I can't state it better than that because I myself am not a writer, but Ms. Harrow blew me away, I FELT this story. It was five-hundred and sixty pages long and yet I still managed to read it in a couple of days, that's how absorbing this story is. I loved the romance and the women being so strong and fighting for their rights, the feminist themes spoke to me. In a word this book was an epic masterpiece. All.The.Stars.
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This is a very well thought out book with some fantastic details surrounding Salem, but it just didn't captivate me the way that I'd hoped. I'm a very expectant reader and need excitement to keep me going in a book. There were some exciting bits throughout the story, but they were sandwiched between long periods of not a lot happening which lost my interest. I can usually get through a bit of info dumping if I really engage with the characters, but they just weren't for me. That is absolutely not to say this is a bad book! I completely understand why some people loved this story as it is a great one, it's just suffered because of how demanding I am as a reader.

My favourite aspect of this book was how it discussed the oppression of women in that period and how few rights they had. Some of the passages had me screaming in frustration at the unjustness of it, but I know that it's a part of our history and it makes me feel grateful that I'm not living in that time. Although, it is baffling to me that I should feel grateful to be given the same rights as men in this modern world, when surely that should be a basic fact of life? Anyway, I enjoyed how thought provoking the narrative was and that's what kept me going when I listed away from the main plot line a bit.
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This book has such an amazing premise and I heard only the greatest things about Alix E. Harrow, so I was really excited to finally be able to read it. And I liked a lot about it! It's such an interesting take on witches and I loved the whole mythology of them and the way Harrow intertwines them with the suffragette movement. It's a story about female empowerment, beautifully written in Harrow's gorgeous detailed prose. The writing is, I'd say, the books greatest strengths. It's just so very captivating.

The characters were intriguing and complex, though I somehow never really connected with them. I still like them, but for some reasons that I can't even explain I just wasn't really emotionally attached to any of the sisters. Agnes was actually my favorite but I always felt like she wasn't entirely fleshed out, like I was missing some things about her as a character, as a person. The same goes for June and Bella, and I do have to admit that June kind of annoyed me a lot of the time. Her characterization seemed a little inconsistent, too. Still, they are likeable and great protagonists. The side characters were mostly rather forgettable and never really fleshed out, with the exception being Cleo. I really enjoyed her and Bella's romance, and for that matter I really enjoyed Agnes' and August's romance too. Neither romance was ever focus of the story, which I actually liked because the main relationship, the important love story of this book, is the one between the three sisters. The big antagonist of the story was interesting and scary and the last little twist about him was really cool, but I wished there had been more time spent on his character. It all felt a little superficial at times.

I loved the way magic was used and explained in this book and the way gender roles were discussed and norms broken. The world building in general was a joy to read. The story is complex and exciting, but also it kind of... dragged at times. The pacing was way too slow and I honestly think that the book would have benefitted from being shorter, more to the point, less meandering. I skipped a page or two sometimes, I admit. There is also just a large amount of characters that were often just namedropped and I simply couldn't remember who everyone was.

All in all this is an enjoyable, beautifully written tale, empowering and imaginative. The slow pacing, the too big and as such confusing cast of side characters and the fact that I simply never really felt any connection the main trio make this a solid 3 star read for me, probably leaning more towards a 3,5. I definitely recommend it to any fans of witchy books!
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This was such an intriguing idea for a book and the story really delivered, it is such a clever premise and unlike any witch based novels that I have read before.  It was gripping all the way through and was so well written, I had to read it alongside other books (which is a normal for me anyway) because i just could not put it down without knowing what happens and I kept telling myself just one more chapter..
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There are no such thing as witches, they’ve been purged from the world .... but there will be. They are the Wayward sisters, ‘hand in hand, burned and band, our stolen crown. But what is lost, that can’t be found’. Let’s transport ourselves to New Salem in 1893 where the battle is on. We have James Juniper, wild, angry, resentful, destructive, bitter, believed to have committed murder and is also suspected of witchcraft. The middle sister is Agnes Amaranth, strong, steady and pregnant and working in a cotton mill. The eldest is Beatrice Belladonna, wise, quiet, a listener who works at the College Library. They have been separated for seven years but here they all are again but who worked the spell that day that brought them together in order to create the Sisters of Avalon, a second age of witching ready to take on a life or death battle for New Salem? 

There are sections that I absolutely love as they captivate and are fantastical in every sense of the word in this magical character driven tale that is vividly and beautifully written. Some of the images that appear before your eyes truly amaze as spells are cast to ward off the increasing levels of evil and danger. There’s a increasing sense of foreboding although that is there from the start with the venom directed at them growing in it’s power. The characters are good, some really stand out and for me it’s Agnes Amaranth but I also like the relationship between Bella and Cleopatra Quinn a black witch although I think it’s fair to say that nothing would have been achieved without the drive of Juniper. The book contains a number of key issues and I especially like the analogy between witching and women’s rights, suffrage and spells equals power. There’s a very clear flavour of feminism throughout with strong women and sisterhood, the sisters Grimm, Alexandra Pope and so on. The women win and they lose as the battle rages, there’s loyalty, love and the ultimate sacrifice. The ending is absolutely terrific and parts of it are unexpected. 

Although there is a huge amount to admire in the book as it almost hypnotises you with the quality of the writing but I also think it’s too long. There are sections that utterly grip you, transfix and transport you but then the pacing drops away as something extraneous is added which detracts from the main plot.  

Overall, though this is an outstanding book which I’m delighted to have read and reviewed. 

4.5 rounded up due to the quality of the writing. 

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Little Brown Book Group for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
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After reading The Ten Thousand Doors of January, I was happy to be approved for the ARC for Alix Harrow’s next book. A book about witches.

Yet, it is so much more than just about witches. Set in 1883, in New Salem, a town a few miles away from Old Salem, which was burned down in the witch trials about a hundred years ago. Women are fighting for the right to vote. And three sisters need to get to grips with their past and survive the present to allow a future for strong women and witchcraft.

Apart from (feminist) witches and devious witch hunters, this book contains badass librarians, sisters and Sisters, powerful depictions of birth and motherhood, and a gorgeous cover.

The prose is excellent. This is why the rather slow parts in the story are still a pleasure to read. Still, at about 60% of the story I was wondering what else might be coming, I thought everything had been said by then. I was wrong, obviously.

TheLadyDuckOfDoom fell in love with the book, sometimes every page all over again. She especially loved the part on page 399 – 401, which her imagination wants to paint rather badly. It’s the part where old meets new, and no further spoilers will be heard from her, because she loved every part of the story deeply and will not take anything away from potential readers.
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Alix Harrow became one of my sought-after authors because of her mesmerizing novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, this book brought me to tears and made me saturated to an enchanting world of January. Harrow's stories are nostalgic, heart-warming, vibrant, and tear-jerker.

I am so excited that I have been approved to read her another novel. Since the themes are all about magic, especially witches, this caught my attention, and fell in love with the story.

The story revolves around the Eastwood sisters,

Agnes, Bella, and Juniper grow up by hearing magic and witchy stories that stick to them 7 years later. The sisters are separated and Juniper is the one left at New Salem. Because of circumstances that Juniper did, the path of the sister once again intertwined.

I loved the 1893 nostalgic vibe of the story. Though it was set in 1893, Harrow manages to write a vibrant and inspiring story of womanhood and sibling's love.

The relationship between the Eastwood sister is strong. Though circumstances may separate them, the love and concern they have for each other is what matters most and it was written very well. There are certain predicaments on each of the sisters but, that doesn't take away the bond of sisterhood between them.

The novel portrays also sexism in the 1800s. The thought of women is only for household material and not for greatness like in men. Harrow manages to characterize strong women in this story and also narrates the indifference with women and men at this time particularly with witches. The story also depicts the separation and disgust with witches, consisting of women rather than men with magic.

I loved Harrow's writing style and the concept of the story but there are certain moments in the novel that quite dragging but excusable. Nonetheless, The Once and Future Witches was another delightful novel of sisterhood, magic, and women in power.
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Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this book.
I really enjoyed this book! 
I may be a bit biased but I love everything to do with witchcraft! 
If you are looking for a unique Witchy book I definitely recommend this one!
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The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow

The Once and Future Witches' is an empowering story following the three Eastwood sisters -Juniper, Agnes, and Beatrice as they struggle for reclaiming not only women's rights but also witches' rights. The Eastwood sisters had separated a long time ago due to some misunderstandings. They are brought together by fate to reclaim magic feared by the people and to win the struggle against misogynic forces.
Not my usual genre choice of book but I was hooked from the first chapter . I haven't come across this author before but I very much enjoyed their style of writing . 
A very entertaining read , fabulous characters , I loved Juniper , Agnes and Beatrice .
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This is a brilliant story of three sisters who are drawn to a suffragette meeting, having been split up when they were younger. The events take off from there, but I will not spoil them by stating them, I just want to recommend the novel. The characters are so well drawn, and the story of witches is fantastic.  Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for giving me a copy of the book.
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Harrow is an author to watch, both of their books have been entertaining, whimsical yet substantial reads. The plotting is great, the characters are intriguing. Here’s to a long publishing career!
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I had great expectations for this novel, as 'The Ten Thousand Doors of January' is one of my all time favorites. But this book was completely different from the previous book, so I would suggest that you read this book with an open mind. The cover is just soooo stunning (just like the previous book by the author) and sets the tone for the story. 

'The Once and Future Witches' is an empowering story following the three Eastwood sisters -Juniper, Agnes, and Beatrice as they struggle for reclaiming not only women's rights but also witches' rights. The Eastwood sisters had separated a long time ago due to some misunderstandings. They are brought together by fate to reclaim magic feared by the people and to win the struggle against misogynic forces.

The writing was amazing, as if the words were woven together with threads of magic and emotions. Each chapter began with a spell (slightly warped and darkened versions of well known nursery rhymes). I loved  the way short, twisted versions of fairytales were included. The setting of New Salem, 1890's was mystical, eerie, dark and gives off just the right vibes for the story. The character development was great too. Each of the Eastwood sisters were unique and as different as people could be. Even the side characters were of great significance. I also loved the relationship building between the Eastwood sisters. I too have an elder sister, and although I love her, she drives me crazy, so I found their relationship very relatable. 

The only flaw that I felt was that the pace was slow, and at times dead slow. The author may have done this to let the readers take in events, but it did not sit well with me. Towards the seconds part of the novel, the story turned more interesting, so after that point, the story and pace were complementing each other. And the ending was EPIC and was worth it! 

I highly recommend this novel to everyone, especially for people who love fantasy or historical fiction and those who are looking for a powerful feministic read, to make you feel inspired and empowered.

I thank NetGalley and Orbit Books for giving me this wonderful opportunity to read and review this unforgettable novel. I also thank Alix E. Harrow for again writing such a beautiful, promising story to the world!
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