I think I have to admit defeat and NOT request any future books written by Alix E. Harrow. As much as I want to love her books, and as much as I love the concepts, ideas, characters she creates, the writing style ruins everything for me. Which is so frustrating!
It would be understandable if I wasn’t a fan of lyrical writing, but I am! In my reviews of The Bear and the Nightingale series by Katherine Arden (which is the BEST series ever!), many people mentioned how beautiful and lyrical her writing was but they couldn’t get engaged in the story, mostly because of the writing. Apparently, I have the same issue with Alix E. Harrow…
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.
Thank you Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK, Orbit, for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.
Last year, Alix E. Harrow’s debut novel «The Ten Thousand Doors of January» was a huge success. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the first half of the book. Even after giving it a very fair try, I still wasn’t able to connect to the main character or the story. You can read my full review here.
With the release of «The Once and Future Witches», I decided to give Alix E. Harrow’s books another try and was very lucky to receive an e-arc from NetGalley. Once again, and even though I forced myself to read until the very end, without skipping the boring descriptions, always staying focused on the story and constantly reminding myself how excited I was about this book, this book was not for me.
In «The Once and Future Witches» we follow the Eastwood sisters – James Juniper Eastwood, the youngest; Agnes Amaranth Eastwood, the middle sister, and Beatrice Belladonna Eastwood, the oldest one, on their suffrage journey to not only give more rights to women but also to return their oldest power – witchcraft.
The book is over 500 pages, so we got to know the three sisters (and some side characters) very well throughout the story. Each one of them was very unique, but also had some qualities that all women will be able to relate to. June (Juniper) was the youngest, the most reckless, and head-hotted of the three. While Agnes was the one who could endure everything, and Bella was the wisest, the most curious and strategic. They all had flaws, but their traits worked flawlessly together.
Undoubtfully, the character work, the story, and many important and empowering ideas, woven into the plot, were done masterfully. There is no denying that Alix E. Harrow really knows how to create a powerful novel that will affect her readers from the very beginning.
As “witchcrafty” and fairy-tale-like this story seems to be, don’t be fooled! It had a fair share of fairy-tales, yes, but it also had a lot of gruesome, dark, and sad moments, which made me shed a couple of tears.
My only and main complaint is Alix E. Harrow’s writing style. It’s beautiful, I can’t deny that. However, beautiful writing doesn’t mean engaging or appealing.
In my opinion, this book could have been 100 times better, if only the editors would cut out all the unnecessary fluff, long descriptions, metaphors. First of all, it would significantly reduce the number of pages, and secondly, it would help to propel the plot forward, keep the pacing high, instead of constant ups and downs.
Reading this book felt like a rollercoaster and not an emotional one. One moment I was engrossed in the story, not noticing myself flipping the pages (tapping my Kindle), and the next one a long sentence or metaphor or description would pull me out of the story. Throughout the whole book, I had to constantly make an effort to stay interested, stay engaged, and pay attention to what was happening on the pages. And I don’t think that’s a sign of a good book.
I know a lot of people loved her previous book. If you did, I think you’ll love this one even more. The plot and the characters were much more interesting, in my opinion, However, if you didn’t like Alix E. Harrow debut novel, this might be a miss as well.
Frankly, I’m very bummed about this. I wanted to adore this book. I tried so hard to fall in love with it, and it didn’t happen…