Alix E. Harrow | Fiction, 2020
Beatrice Belladonna (the oldest, and a librarian); Agnes Aramanth (street savvy and unintentionally pregnant); and James Juniper (wild and rural) Eastwood are sisters who have been raised by their grandmother in the art of witchery. The setting is 1893. When the Eastwood sisters find each other at a Suffragist rally in New Salem, after seven years apart, the forgotten words and ways of witchery re-emerge, many from re-examining nursery rhymes.
This is a tale of sisterhood, of women's power, of loyalty, of love, of unbreakable bonds, of the stark need of women to vote, of magic, of witchery. It is a story about what happens when women build community, share power and knowledge, learn and dream.
Our three main characters are developed fully and deeply, and the surrounding characters include a diversity in color and sexual orientation that adds a lovely modern flavor.
Unfortunately, I found it rather boring. It took me two weeks to read, because I never experienced it's alleged page-turning qualities. While prettily written, I would call it over-written. Too many spells enacted too many times. I am particularly disappointed by this because I loved Ms. Harris' first novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January.
I am going to give this three hearts (although it leans towards two.). There are so many rave reviews, my opinion on The Once and Future Witches feels off-kilter, like maybe I missed something important or lovable. I am eager to hear what you think!