Book Review: The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan

The Age of Witches…

About the Book:

A MAGICAL TALE OF FAMILY, AMBITION AND LOVE, SET IN GILDED AGE NEW YORK AND LONDON

In 1692, Bridget Bishop was hanged as a witch. Two hundred years later, her legacy lives on in the scions of two very different lines: one dedicated to using their powers to heal and help women in need; the other, determined to grasp power for themselves.

This clash will play out in the fate of Annis, a young woman in Gilded Age New York who finds herself a pawn in the family struggle for supremacy. She’ll need to claim her own power to save herself – and resist succumbing to the darkness that threatens to overcome them all.


My Thoughts:

This was such an enjoyable novel. It had all of my favourite ingredients: historical fiction set in the Victorian era, witchcraft, botany/herbology, the bond that can exist between humans and horses, strong female characters, issues of female agency, and a love story without the romance. Absolutely ideal! I was initially drawn to this novel by the cover (isn’t it divine?) but I am pleased to say that the story itself more than lives up to its adornment.

‘Witch should be a beautiful word, signifying wisdom and knowledge and discipline, but it isn’t used that way. It’s been made an insult, implying evil, causing fear. The word has been perverted.’

There are many layers to this story, making it incredibly engrossing and perfect if you’re looking for a novel to truly get lost in. Like I mentioned above, it’s set during the Victorian era, but split between England and New York’s Gilded Age. The story begins as a battle between two witches who are cousins but practice very different types of magic. One is determined to secure a marriage for her step-daughter and has no adverse feelings about using the dark arts to do so, even if it is against her step-daughter’s will. The other is determined to stop her, to protect her niece and the unsuspecting young man who has become an unfortunate pawn in this battle. When the battle does play out to a rather stunning conclusion, it occurs earlier in the novel than I expected but leads the story into a whole new, and quite engrossing, territory. There is really so much more to this story than what is conveyed via the blurb.

‘Annis, hairbrush in her hand, knelt before a lively fire in the small parlor to dry her hair. James found her there and held out his hand for the brush. “Allow me,” he said. Startled, Annis gave him the hairbrush and bent her head. With patient hands he untangled the strands of damp hair and began to brush. It was an oddly intimate experience, the heat of the fire against her scalp, the firm, slow strokes of the hairbrush, the occasional grazing of her cheek by James’s long fingers. Annis’s breathing quickened, and her heart beat a little faster at his nearness.’

Issues of female agency are examined under several different lights: organised marriage against one’s will, servitude, the exercising of a husband’s ‘right’ to institutionalise his wife; along with many and varied instances of morality and the balance of power within relationships, both conjugal and familial. This is a novel where the author has taken a theme and then really dug in deep into her era and the societal issues that were present within it. There is an overall supernatural story arc, but it acts as the glue to bind everything else together quite brilliantly. The Age of Witches is one novel that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

☕☕☕☕


Thanks is extended to Hachette UK for providing me with a NetGalley review copy of The Age of Witches.


About the Author:

Louisa Morgan is a pseudonym for award-winning author Louise Marley. Louise lives in the Pacific Northwest where she and her Border Terrier, Oscar, ramble the beaches and paths of Washington State.


The Age of Witches
Published by Orbit
Released 21st April 2020

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