In the late 1800s, three sisters use witchcraft to change the course of history in this powerful novel of magic, family, and the suffragette movement.
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.
Amazon Link: The Once and Future Witches
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Genre: Historical fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars
This is a beautiful story about three sisters who overcome shared and separate traumas to fight back against the oppression of women and bring witchcraft back into the world. And part of what they learn is that the witchcraft never really left, and they don’t need the help of ancient wisdom, because they have their own power already.
I love that it included women of color, different cultures and magical traditions, queer women and trans women and even men who are allies. It’s inclusive feminism. I love that it referenced real women’s movements from history like the suffragists and labor unions that fight for women’s rights. The folktales and fairy stories and Arthurian legends are also an important part of the story and they have their own female-centric twist.
I cried when it ended and I wish there were more books. If not these characters, then stories about other characters in the same world. Wonderfully written.
LGBT representation: One of the main sisters is a lesbian and has a romance with another woman. Other minor characters are also queer and one is trans. There is an emphasis on the need for intersectionality in the suffragette movement: to include LGBTQIA+ women, women of color, and other marginalized identities.
Here is the book in my reading journal: