The Once and Future Witches – by Alix E. Harrow – independent book review – Historical Fiction (U.S.)

I can’t imagine finding a more unique take on American women fighting for their rights. Although the novel has quite a slow start, it eventually builds toward an enthralling and suspenseful conclusion. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.

It’s the 1800s in Salem, Massachusetts. Three sisters are born into less than ideal circumstances. A mother who dies after the birth of the youngest. A drunken and abusive father. Fortunately, the girls have a strange but loving grandmother who shares with them her knowledge of herbs and “spells.”
• Belle, the oldest, leaves home after someone exposes her darkest secret to her father.
• Agnes, becomes a librarian, navigating a hostile environment while struggling to protect her own secret.
• Juniper, the wildest of the three, holds deep hurt and resentment, not understanding how her older sisters could have abandoned her to live alone with their father.

But even when separated, each sister still feels a strong, almost mystical, personal connection with the other two, innately sensing when one is in trouble. When the sisters finally reunite, they become involved with the budding Suffragette movement, fight against the political establishment — all the while seeking to learn more about the lost world of Avalon.

The plot is much more creative and ingenious than my description but I don’t want to give away any spoilers. Alix E. Harrow is an inventive writer and not afraid to struggle with her craft, as she readily admits in the book’s ending Acknowledgments.

Alix E. Harrow Photo from her website.

I greatly enjoyed and was impressed by Harrow’s first book, The Ten Thousand Doors of January. But this one surpasses the first.

More about the author, Alix E. Harrow.

You may be interested in my review of other Alix Harrow’s books:

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

A Spindle Splintered