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.
Once upon a time there were three sisters: James Juniper (the youngest, the wild and brazen one), Agnes Amaranth (the middle one, the strong and practical one) and Beatrice Belladonna (the eldest, the wise and bookish one). Seven years they’ve spent apart, but when Juniper finally leaves their childhood home upon the death of their father, they find each other in New Salem, a pure and chaste and peaceful city, a City Without Sin, as opposed to the Old Salem, which was a breeding ground of sin and sinful women, a.k.a. witches. Of course there’s no such thing as witches now. But there was. And there will be again.
Once upon a time witches were powerful, women were powerful. But they were found out, exposed, persecuted by men afraid of their powers and prowess, hurt and drowned and burned and forced into a hundred-year or more slumber, driven into oblivion. Not entirely though, never completely. These women’s legacy, their souls, their wills have lingered, passed on in harmless nursery rhymes and songs, in innocuous tales and fairy tales and needlework, in whispers in the dark. Even in a city that’s supposedly without sin, there is injustice, and all it takes is a single spark to light a roaring fire, a few words and a whole lot of willpower to turn the tables.
Once upon a time there was a little book blogger who received an email thingy from Nazia at Orbit Books and first laid eyes upon the glorious cover of The Once and Future Witches. Once this little book blogger had recovered enough to actually read the blurb, she wished for it upon a star (a.k.a. practically sprained a wrist and a finger or two to request the hell out of it). Her wish was granted by a distant fairy godmother or perhaps the bookish gods, in any case, on a glorious day she found The Once and Future Witches in her letterbox. Oh but how it terrified her! Could the actual content ever live up to the cover and the blurb? Could it ever live up to the apparent magnificence of The Ten Thousand Doors of January? (which the little red-faced book blogger admits to not having read, despite the fact that she’s owned a copy for forever and a day)
Once upon a glorious Indian Summer day, the little book blogger gathered her wits and her coffee and her cat and faced the music and what she found surpassed everything she’d hoped. From the prologue to the acknowledgements, The Once and Future Witches was a magical journey. An only child herself, the little book blogger found sisters in June, Agnes and Bella, she found love and outrage and emotion and strength and she even felt a little witchy herself. She savoured every single chapter, every witchy fairy tale from the Sisters Grimm, every smile and every tear.
Once upon a time a little awed book blogger fell under the powerful spell of beautiful story and strong female characters and began to feel an all-encompassing need and an irrepressible urge to shout about it. So here we are. That little book blogger is me (bet you didn’t see that one coming, did ya 😂) and I beg of you: if you’re looking for a witchy book to read in the witchiest of months, do add The Once and Future Witches to your list, and put it right at the top! Highly recommended!
The Once and Future Witches is out on 13 October on Kindle and on 15 October in hardcover.
Huge thanks to Nazia @ Orbit Books for the gorgeous proof copy. All opinions are my own.