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Rich, atmospheric historical fiction starring complex, interesting women. While the magic and ghosts might be fictional, the real-life goings-on in the background were almost as fascinating. Good as an audio book too!
I found this to be very interesting. It helps to have read the previous book, The Virgin Cure, because some of the things that come up have happened in that novel. I really hope that the author continues this series. It would be interesting to see where she takes the characters. I also enjoyed her take on witchcraft and the occult, and what makes someone a witch. The Virgin Cure follows Adelaide’s early years. I think something similar for Eleanor would be very interesting.
Review excerpt: "The narration by Julia Whelan was excellent. She manages to create distinct voices for the many characters, mostly female, who inhabited this story. Unfortunately the best praise I can give about the book is that it made me want to go back to other books about witches that resonated with me, surprised me, or challenged me more. Beyond that, this novel didn’t do much for me. ...
... McKay, in her author’s notes, wonders at one point what would these witches of the past would think of today’s feminist movement. It’s tough to answer that question because there’s not a single woman of color in this story. There’s no conversation or acknowledgement of slavery or even a real discussion of what specifically the suffragettes were advocating for (and what they were not advocating for). The Witches of New York is a world where there simply are no people of color present besides the mystical presence seemingly guarding the book’s MacGuffin, an ancient Egyptian artifact. How could that for a second truly speak to today’s feminist movement? Or reflect the actual feminist movement at the time?"
This story sort of chugged along but it never got slow enough that I thought to put it down or not finish it. The characters are very well rounded and likeable
Completely drawn in by the first chapter. Strong female characters who lift one another up. The author's attention to detail in the writing creates a strong vision of place and time.
I really enjoyed The Birth House and this was a very enjoyable read as well. Lots of strong female characters with bits of real history thrown in.
Difficult-to-put-down historic fiction with a focus on feminism and the occult.
If you liked 'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell' and also like women's stories and literary fiction, you'll likely find much to enjoy within this fascinating novel by Indiana-born Ami McKay (who now lives and writes in Canada).
For those who fall in love with the characters, McKay has released a small sequel entitled 'Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide.'
I was drawn right into the book from the first few pages, loving the settings and the characters. Then… It just slowed down. I went on vacation with it 2/3 completed...and barely touched it. That’s unusual for me.
I loved the descriptive writing on the characters and tea shop. The detail and emotions put into this book made me picture being there. Although the book was a little more ghosty than witchy than I expected I still thoroughly enjoyed it, almost as much as The Birth House!
This was a really good book with strong female characters and made me want to read her earlier books, the character of Moth is fascinating. Can't wait for the next one.
The reader is spellbound by this unconventional novel, which is not only a thrilling experience but a learning one as well : a well-documented historical background , a detailed social depiction of the living conditions of unmarried women at the time ( late 19th century ) and of course magical spells and recipes…! the quaint atmosphere of the times and the mystical characters of the story add to its seductiveness.
A perfect concoction for witchcraft lovers only, very entertaining and “enchanting”….
Though not my usual genre, and a bit slow at the beginning, I found I really enjoyed this book and the characters. The passions, potents, and nature of witchcraft at the time was interesting.i would definitely recommend, but keep an open mind, and just enjoy the writing,
I enjoyed this book very much and for me it ended too soon. It's for everyone who likes witches and ghosts and goblins.
Very slow first 100 pages, but things picked up after that. Probably enjoyable for those who are into witchcraft and things. The historical New York setting was a nice element.
This is not the kind of book that I normally read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an interesting pro-witch tale about three women: a witch, a seer and a young woman only just learning about witchcraft.
At times, the pace was a bit slow, but I enjoyed the writing overall. It’s full of interesting supporting characters (my favourite being Madame St. Clair, who I think may deserve her own book) and built around the backdrop of the arrival of an Egyptian obelisk.
The book is beautifully formatted. The moon cycles, (fake) newspaper clippings, and highlights from Eleanor’s grimoire added to the generally atmosphere of the book and supplemented the lore and spells scattered throughout the story.
Some plots lines and characters did not come to a conclusion or get fully developed, which makes me suspect that this book will have a sequel.
Like slavery, witch hunts were born of greed, ignorance and ignorant fear. Ami McKay has done her research and produced a fine read. Innocence, sinister acts and brave faith.
Some may find the pacing a bit slow, but I was enthralled by the rich atmosphere, intriguing characters, and terrifying antagonist. I will definitely be reading more of Ami McKay's work.
A full review can be found under the Summary section. This review was first published in the Stratford Gazette November 2016.