The Once and Future Witches

Paperback ARC, 528 Pages
Adult/ Historical Fantasy
By: Alix E.Harrow

โ€œIt’s a risk just to be a woman, in my experience. No matter how healthy or hardworking she is.โ€

I loved this more than The Ten Thousand Doors of January and I think this may a bit unpopular when this book comes out. But a story about 3 witches who tend to be sisters, which is full of nursery rhymes and is a feminist story in essence! How could I not love that! Thanks for the publisher for providing me with a physical copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.

The story takes place in the year 1893 and it starts as a story about women movement and their right to vote. I think you know how in that time men were controlling everything and women were just supposed to stay at home and serve their husbands. But the story develops from there and introduces us to the Eastwood sisters and facing a trouble that is looming over the whole city!

Harrow’s writing is magical, flowery and atmospheric. I actually preferred the writing in this book over her debut because it felt less dense and easier to go through. I just love stories and nursery rhymes because that’s where my love of reading bloomed and this book made me so nostalgic! I don’t know who formatted the book but I know they did a very good job at that! I loved how stories we all know were included in the story like the story of Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin and may other stories. The use of nursery rhymes as magic spells was something I enjoyed very much too and putting those at the start of each chapter made me just so excited and looking forward to the next one!

One for sorrow,
Two for mirth,
Three for a funeral
And four for birth
Five for life
Six for death
Seven to find a merry wife

I love characters with focus on more than one character although I know how challenging and risky they are to write. Fortunately, Harrow took the risk and aced this! I just love stories about families and sisters. There was also another something I liked in the writing where a chapter started with a sentence and then when we jumped to the next sister we would have the same sentence with changes fitting that sister. The story starts with introducing the sisters in the present time with a shaky relationship and they are separated and then we move a bit with the story until they meet again early in the story and then we start to understand what happened to them in the past. I loved how the three sisters were different from each other and yet cared for each other as much as expected from family members and I liked their platonic relationship. We had secondary characters who were well written as well and we have cute romance in the story featuring an LGBT relation.

The world-building is cool, I like stories about witches and I loved how the magic was done as mentioned above and in the synopsis (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 I need to criticize one thing it is that the story did not feel so 1893 to me, from the way people talked to how their lives were described, it actually felt more modern to me!

โ€œFate is a story people tell themselves so they can believe everything happens for a reason, that the whole awful world is fitted together like some perfect machine, with blood for oil and bones for brass. That every child locked in her cellar or girl chained to her loom is in her right and proper placeโ€

Summary: This is a feminist story that mixes all kind of elements I like from witches to nursery rhymes to short stories. The writing, world-building and plot were all well done and although the pacing was slow sometimes, I was not bored at all! Give this a chance if you want something atmospheric and nostalgic!


  1. Wow, this review is selling me! With a line like, โ€œFate is a story people tell themselves…”, the writing does sound gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

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