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Publisher's Summary

In the late 1800s, three sisters use witchcraft to change the course of history in this powerful novel of magic, family, and the suffragette movement. 

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.

An homage to the indomitable power and persistence of women, The Once and Future Witches reimagines stories of revolution, motherhood, and women's suffrage - the lost ways are calling.

Praise for The Once and Future Witches:

"A gorgeous and thrilling paean to the ferocious power of women. The characters live, bleed, and roar. I adore them, and long for witchcraft to awaken in all of us. Harrow makes it feel possible, and even likely." (Laini Taylor, New York Times best-selling author)

"A glorious escape into a world where witchcraft has dwindled to a memory of women's magic, and three wild, sundered sisters hold the key to bring it back...A tale that will sweep you away." (Yangsze Choo, New York Times best-selling author)

"This book is an amazing bit of spellcraft and resistance so needed in our times, and a reminder that secret words and ways can never be truly and properly lost, as long as there are tongues to speak them and ears to listen." (P. Djèlí Clark, author The Black God's Drum)

For more from Alix E. Harrow, check out The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR Books • Barnes and Noble • BookPage

©2020 Alix E. Harrow (P)2020 Redhook

Critic Reviews

"The magical tale of imperfect heroines, fractured sisterhood, and shadowy undying villains you never knew you needed. Alix Harrow crafts a delightfully bewitching story with familiar but ingeniously recrafted histories and deft worldbuilding as rich as the prose that leaps off the page. This book is an amazing bit of spellcraft and resistance so needed in our times, and a reminder that secret words and ways can never be truly and properly lost, as long as there are tongues to speak them and ears to listen." (P. Djèlí Clark, author of The Black God's Drum)

"A breathtaking book-brilliant and raw and dark and complicated. It's also, to be blunt, uncannily relevant." (Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars)

What listeners say about The Once and Future Witches

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Almost. Not quite there.

The book needs quite a bit of editing. The movement of the plot is very much sacrificed by irrelevant "artistic" expression. For example (paraphrasing): 'there wasnt a twinkling in their eyes. Twinkling is for grandmas who knit sweaters by the fire, and blah blah blah. There was a glint in their eyes. A glint for witching." There was something like this every other sentence. It became severely irritating. Editing most of these artistic descriptors out would've made for a nice pace and a better read. Also, I think the setting of the where the novel starts should have been set prior to the falling out of the sisters so readers could be drawn into the deep love and deep betrayal. The music between chapters was a little weird. I did however LOVE the presence of sexual orientation/racial diversity among the women.
Overall, The book had potential but is just okay. I listened to this book before bed and I wasn't tempted to rewind the parts I slept through. If this a book written early in the author's career, I would be interested to read later books written by the author. If this book was written fairly recently, I don't think I'll read any more books from this author. The narrator did an okay job.

61 people found this helpful

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If you are over 16 you may become impatient

This story is about 3 sisters with personality issues and fear of abandonment. They have a family linage which includes witches. They struggle to band together and restore magic through witchcraft in the world. The narration is cringeworthy and the story is simplistic, stuffed with “woke” contrivances and breathless emotional awakenings. This is most definitely young adult, and quite dull

48 people found this helpful

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Didn't finish

This is a clever storyline and the narrator is excellent. However, the story was too slow for me. My mind kept wandering and I'd have to rewind to listen to what I missed. I was over 7 hours into the story and realized I didn't want to listen to it for 7 more hours to find out how it ended. So I returned it (thanks Audible!).

38 people found this helpful

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Good enough for doing chores

I was weaned on Russian novels. So most books feel like a meal of thin gruel . This book took numberless hours to give us a bedtime story.
It was ok... I guess, with predictable PC characters, and villains. I was glad when it ended, but got a lot of chores done. I have now learned my lesson on popular fiction.

27 people found this helpful

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Love this author!!

Great story! So well written. I wish they wouldn’t add music to the story. It’s so distracting.

25 people found this helpful

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Maybe my favorite book this year

I absolutely loved The Ten Thousand Doors of January, but I might have loved this more. Alix E. Harrow has done it again! A strong dose of sister love, a little bit of suffrage, fairy tales and nursery rhymes, a setting of historical fiction, some fierce momma love, and a whole lot of raw feminist power swept up in witching. I will say that, as much as I loved it, it’s not for everyone.

The three Eastwood sisters, Beatrice Belladonna, Agnes Amaranth, and James Juniper, don’t set out to disrupt the order of the world, but they find the ways, the will, and the words to change everything. Along the way, they experience love, loss, friendship, a connection with their history, and become the maiden, mother and crone. I saw myself in each one and all at the same time.

This book features one of the best, most evenly matched, and most complicated villains, Gideon Hill. I also loved the book for being inclusive and honoring POC and LGTBQ+ characters and their stories. One of my favorite parts was during birth and new motherhood. “I am terrified and I am terrible. I am fearful and something to be feared... she thinks maybe every mother is both things at once”. I felt so seen as a mother.

This is a powerful story of Womens’ power, both political and arcane, and it could not have come at a better time. It felt incredibly relevant in this time of disenfranchisement, racism and a pandemic.

“We may be either beloved or burned, but never trusted with any degree of power.”

Harrow’s lyrical writing, her extensive research, her poetry and her gorgeous imagery continue to be my favorite things about her as an author. The conspicuous storytelling and narrative voice was right up my alley. At this point, Harrow is an automatic pre-order for me. The narrator, Gabra Zackman, was also absolutely fantastic and the atmospheric music and her varied voices made this extra spooky and wonderful.

This might be my favorite book this year.

22 people found this helpful

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Delicious, Spellbinding, and Descriptive

The name caught me first; it was clever, and every chapter lived up to its clever title. Alix Harrow paints with words so vividly that the taste of blood and scent of burning ash lingers in your memory long after you put the book down. She weaves the story of Woman and the miracles and magic all women seek to see the real good that should be theirs too, with effortless deference to stories you thought you knew.

Gabra Zackman nailed the timbre and time of each sister with consistency and depth. There were times I heard hints of Holly Hunter’s raspy southern voice, and it made me smile every time it came peeking out in Juniper. Each sister’s unique tone made the experience just... right.

I bought the book for two of my friends, and I’m making three more read it — it is a PERFECT book for this week before Halloween when the air is shifting and a political storm of an election riding quickly on its heels. Though this story is set 130-ish years ago, it’s a timeless gem of a read. Complete with quotable quotes!

I’ll definitely pick it up again.

19 people found this helpful

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Well written and excellent narration!

I generally like all things "witches" but this book took it to the next level. The writing is exceptional weaving a detailed story. The narration superb. I remained "spellbound" through every second of the 16 hour, 3 minute narration.

18 people found this helpful

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Kind of depressing

This book was rather sad but what’s to be expected based on the description. I was looking for more whimsical magic. It was a good book but nothing I’d want to read again.

14 people found this helpful

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Story was decent but the narration ruined it

I really wanted to love this book. I enjoyed the plot and the overall concept - loved the idea of fighting for witches' rights alongside women's rights! But dang... it just kept going! At many points I thought I was nearing the end of the story and I would look at the audio and see hours left. Each time that happened, I couldn't imagine enduring even more of a story for these ladies - ladies I loved, but whose personalities were completely destroyed by the awful narration. The voices for each character grated on my nerves. The narrator did an odd speech thing where she turned "s" sounds into lazy "sh" sounds. It sounded like the characters always had peanut butter in their mouths. It probably made the book feel much longer to me. Sad, because I kind of wish I had just read it as a paper book.

10 people found this helpful