The Once and Future Witches

The Once and Future Witches


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.


The Once and Future Witches was on all the lists last year. It was nominated for a Goodreads choice award and probably other ones too. The author’s website is pretty lacking, so I’m not sure about that. Her previous book got nominated for everything, though. A lot of the time, when I read books like this, I’m disappointed. I like lighter fare, something not grounded in realism. That isn’t always the case, of course, and I’m happy to say it wasn’t with The Once and Future Witches.

The story follows three sisters. They grew up with an abusive father and are all struggling with what was done to them in their own ways. Set in the late 1800s, they live in a world that treats women as property. They don’t have the vote and have been stripped of any magical power they had through years of witch trials. The only things they have are the stories and words their grandmother taught them.

The magic in this world was fascinating. I enjoyed how fairy tales were included and the power they gave. The spells were all interesting and feel so accessible. What if I can say these words and clean my house? Ugh, if only. Honestly, it made me want to believe.

Anyway! There was a diverse cast of characters, strong women that weren’t cookie cutters, and just enough magic to make the realism less draining. The ending was good, but not too happy, which is what you expect from these types of books. I liked it. I’m going to look into Harrow’s previous book now.



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