Book Review: The Once and Future Witches

“Witching and women’s rights. Suffrage and spells. They’re both… a kind of power, aren’t they?

Alix. E Harrow ~ The Once and Future Witches

Synopsis

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 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.

Review

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 utterly ridiculous.

The author had some good ideas but tried to shoehorn too much into one book, so it felt contrived and unrealistic. The concept is also that there is no such thing as witches… yet everyone seems to have some form of magical power? It was very confusing.

I think it would’ve been much better as two illustrated shorter stories as it felt a bit overwritten. There was a lot going on but not really enough about the specific history relating to each event. I would have liked more about the suffragettes and the persecution of the witches of old. The relationships were also so PG it became irritating; I would have liked a lot more action and much less mooning.

While the nursery rhyme idea was good, it felt unnecessary to explain what the spell was for in the epigraph as it was then used (and explained again) in that chapter. One might as well read each rhyme and nothing else to get the gist of the entire plot.

A unique concept that sadly didn’t quite work. 

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I was provided with an ARC by NetGalley. All opinions my own.

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