Witchy Women | Fiction, Feb. 2020

A must-read for those who like magic, love, and a little bit of feel-good feminism in their historical fiction; Sayers weaves deep historical context with rich characterizations to create a melancholic novel

Morgan, Louisa. The Age of Witches. Orbit. Apr. 2020. 448p. ISBN 9780316419512. $28. F
The latest from Morgan (aka sf author Louise Marley) tells the tale of three women descended from Bridget Bishop, a witch hanged in Salem in 1692. In Gilded Age New York, Harriet Bishop, her cousin Frances Allington, and Frances’s stepdaughter Annis Allington are all witches of varying ages and knowledge of the power. The central theme is the struggle between light and dark magic, called malefecia by Morgan. This malefecia, handed down the Bishop ancestral line, corrupts everyone who uses it. Frances uses it to evil ends by trying to force Annis into a marriage with an English duke, while Harriet and Annis work to destroy Frances’s dark agenda. Morgan portrays witchcraft as freedom for the practitioners, with Harriet saying witch "should be a beautiful word" that’s instead "been perverted." The author continues building mystery and intrigue with her impressive vocabulary, weaving a compelling tale of love and magic in historic America and England. Fans of Deborah Harkness’s "All Souls Trilogy" or Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth will enjoy reading this. VERDICT This is a must-read for those who like magic, love, and a little bit of feel-good feminism in their historical fiction.—Kay Strahan, Univ. of Tennessee Health Sciences Lib., Memphis

Sayers, Constance. A Witch in Time. Orbit. Feb. 2020. 448p. ISBN 9780316493598. $26. F
DEBUT Juliet LaCompte is a teenager cursed by her mother, a minor witch, to fall in love with a man who will never love her the same way for eternity. When she dies, she is reborn and the cycle starts again. Traveling to late 19th-century France, 1930s Hollywood, 1970s Southern California, and contemporary Washington, DC, Sayers weaves a complicated tale of romance by introducing more memories of her demon lover in Juliet’s modern reincarnation, Helen. In each new life, she is doomed to repeat the mistakes of her past with a twist: She remembers each life she’s lived, even though she’s not supposed to. Things come to a head when Helen meets her lover again, but this time she only has one month to figure out how to stop the curse. Sayers’s strength lies in her characters; both major and minor players are realistic and fascinating.
VERDICT Sayers weaves deep historical context with rich characterizations to create a melancholic novel, reminiscent of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife and Diana Gabaldon’s "Outlander" series that readers of historical fiction and romance will enjoy.—Kay Strahan, Univ. of Tennessee Health Sciences Lib., Memphis

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