The Once and Future Witches

by Alix E. Harrow

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I was so disappointed by this book, that even doing a c&p from Goodreads seems a chore.

If I was going to use one word to described this book, it would be “bloated.”

For others, another word could be “over-hyped”, but this book couldn’t be over-hyped for me. I have read (& loved) some of Ms Harrow’s short stories – in particular the magical A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies which I read in an Apex magazine. This story completely enchanted me & I was excited to reading Harrow in a longer format.

Unfortunately The Once and Future Witches underwhelmed me.

I do freely admit I normally prefer shorter works of fiction, so this book was always going to be a hard sell. But even allowing for this, this book needed a really good pruning – it was at least 100 pages too long. Ms Harrow is the mistress of creating really beautifully descriptive prose, but this didn’t always drive the story forward. My attention did wander. A lot.

The other problem for me was how profoundly unlikeable the three Eastwood Sisters/Witches were in the first half of the book – & they didn’t improve that much in the second. Fortunately at around the 40% mark (just as I was about to DNF) the plot did improve and for a time I was really engaged by roughly the middle third of the book. By the end I was losing interest again, although the twist  was a deft touch – I was taken completely by surprise!

I am no longer in a hurry to read The Ten Thousand Doors of January but I will certainly read more of Ms Harrow’s short stories. It is too early in Ms Harrow’s career to say that she should stick to that format.

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