Book Review: The Once and Future Witches by 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.


Are you a fan of The Charmed Series? This was one of my favorite shows back in the 90s. I just loved the sisterly vibe and watching the power of three in action whenever the sisters would fight a demon. So when I stumbled on The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow in Kinokuniya at Dubai Mall, I grabbed a copy. Haha…I couldn’t resist!

There’s always something fascinating about witches who do good. Because in any religious text, anything related to witches or witchcraft is evil and demonic. Yet that is exactly what makes the dichotomy of good witches very intriguing and it is because of this dichotomy that I devoured this book.

Magical, fascinating, and very witchy, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow is a story where women roar. It is about three sisters who are not afraid to carve their place in a male dominated society and to have their voices heard.

Fueled by anger and injustice, each character in the book has a strong personal reason for dabbling into witchcraft even though it is considered taboo and their actions bring about dire consequences that awaken a long, slumbering evil in New Salem.

What I liked about this book is how flawed and human the characters seem. Despite having magical powers, the characters are not infallible and they each have their own weaknesses. I loved it that they weren’t impeccably perfect because it made it more satisfying to read about their character development as each sister clawed their way through the challenges they faced. The focus wasn’t on their magical abilities but on what women are capable of if they work together towards a unified cause.

The story also touches on family, abuse and how it strains the bond between siblings. The three sisters grow up under the tyranny of an abusive father. As the girls grow older, each of them grabs the opportunity to leave home, leaving the youngest resentful because watching her older sisters leave made her feel abandoned. The sisters lose contact with each other and they are reunited after years of separation. Though the relationship was strained at first, the book also shows that broken familial bonds can be healed if there is a mutual effort from both parties.

This book sated my appetite for a novel with a healthy slice of magic and a dollop of drama! The only reason why this wasn’t a five star for me is that I felt that my attention would drift occasionally while I was reading. However, other than that, this book is a great read that I would recommend to anyone who supports women’s empowerment and enjoys curling up to a good magical novel about witches.

Tweetable Quotes

“One witch you can laugh at. Three you can burn. But what do you do with a hundred?”
― Alix E. Harrow, The Once and Future Witches

“I am terrified and I am terrible. I am fearful and I am something to be feared.”
― Alix E. Harrow, The Once and Future Witches

“Because it’s easy to ignore a woman.” Juniper’s lips twist in a feral smile. “But a hell of a lot harder to ignore a witch.”
― Alix E. Harrow, The Once and Future Witches

Synopsis from

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