Book Review

The Once and Future Witches ARC Review

The Once and Future Witches



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 Review

Alix E. Harrow strikes again! While Ten Thousand Doors of January was a quick favorite in our bookish community, it did mean I was eagerly awaiting this second novel. It was one of my most anticipated novels of 2020 and I was not disappointed!

Harrow gives a delightfully whimsical and yet stark tale, she uses Grimm’s tales to intersperse through the book but even better…they’re not Grimm’s tales, they’re Witches tales.

Our three witches are sisters and as different as sisters tend to be, one of chaos, one of knowledge, and one of endurance. Could they be destined for greatness? While that question weaves through the novel, one thing is clear, they could make something happen regardless if it’s destiny or not.

I loved inner strength each Eastwood sister had, and I loved the endurance of all the women in the book. This wasn’t just about sisters or witches, it was about the rights of women.

In the timeline of Harrow’s book, the women are working for their right to vote, but she’s taken care to also show the hurdles and hardships of women who weren’t fit to vote even in the view of suffragists.

However, James Juniper doesn’t care about the suffragists, she wants all women to come together for something bigger than voting, to get back their actual power, to bring witches back.

As the three sisters are pulled into a quest to bring that power back, they are aided by women of all kinds, the temptation of knowledge and power guiding them all.

The pacing was at times a bit all over the place but it’s my only complaint in this novel. It’s half plot driven half character driven and meets with a pleasant balance of the two. I was admittedly James Juniper Eastwood’s biggest fan lol but I really did enjoy all three sisters and the side characters that helped them toward their goal.

The villain of the novel is also brilliantly done. Just the sort of realistic one we can all believe in, especially as the ‘evil’ may or may not have involved politicians in the evil scheming. Let’s face it, we all know Politicians are evil anyway so this is just a good use of realism.

The three sisters though mostly working toward a common goal also have vastly different personal goals and character development which was so intriguing to see, and I was definitely invested in all three of their stories.

Whimsical, dark, and starkly contrasting the power of what women want whether it’s voting or magic with the power they actually have.

I loved the cleverness and creativity of the New Salem, that our original witch-burning Salem did in fact burn a bit more than just witches in the end and that New Salem is a beacon of how the world should be according to men.

Brilliantly written, brilliantly thought out, and a great novel overall.

I would highly recommend this to any fantasy fans.

4.5 Cups of Coffee from me, thank you so much to Nazia and Orbit Books UK for an ARC of this in exchange for my honest review! It hits shelves October 13th!

By TheCaffeinatedReader

A Caffeinated Reader and Musician, destined to write lacklustre book reviews with the over-ample amount of free time.

9 replies on “The Once and Future Witches ARC Review”

Great review. This is the HEIGHT of coincidence but today, as you posted this review, I was posting my Can’t Wait Wednesday meme with *this exact book*. Now I’m even more excited to read it! I really like how you point out that some women weren’t seen as fit to vote even by suffragists — in the book, does that mean black and/or native american women?

Liked by 1 person

Haha it was meant to be that our posts matched up like that! And yes, Native American, Black, even just the straight up poor as well if they’re like ‘bottom of the barrel’ to the view of say an upperclass suffragist in the book


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