Sunday, October 31, 2021

Books: The Once and Future Witches

Alix E. Harrow's The Once and Future Witches was the October selection for my book club. It's not a book I would have picked up on my own, and that's the point of our book club, to get readers out of their book comfort zones. At book club I gave this book a three-star rating, but now, two weeks later, I would give it four stars. The Once and Future Witches has had some significant lasting power for me. I keep thinking about it, and isn't that a sign of a good book? My initial rating had more to do with the fact that I had to force myself to keep picking up this monster of a book. I wasn't deeply engaged. There certainly were aspects I liked, which came up in book club: great characterization, the inclusion of folklore/fables, female bonding. I particularly liked (okay, loved) the idea of not drawing your circle too small. And these layers of the work are what keep lingering -- overshadowing my apparent resistance while making my way through this 513-page novel. But, giving myself the benefit of the doubt, this novel seems to just move along linearly for the first 350 pages, and then, wow, after that the good stuff happens. The Once and Future Witches starts dazzling. All Holy Hell breaks loose, and it is fun to watch. 

So I take back some of what I said at book club. I appreciate the work that went into this huge novel, specifically the development of so many characters and the many directions/intricacies of the plot. Sure, I was ready to move on from this one, but I'm glad I was there for it all. 

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the novel:

"It occurs to Beatrice for the first time that there's a certain power in being nothing." (Took me back to my Feminist Studies days analyzing the power in silence.)

"Distantly it occurs to her that men like Gideon ought to stop breaking people, because sometimes they mend twice as strong." (Yes, yes.)

It's fun to read books with a seasonal feel to them. I have loved all the social media posts on wicked books this month. Sure, it might be awhile before I get back around to this theme, but I most certainly will be making my way back. 

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