Biblioshelf Musings – The Once and Future Witches

Hello Bibliofriends!

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect witchy read this Halloween, then look no further than The Once and Future Witches! An amazingly ethereal read, Alix E. Harrow’s new novel combines compellingly powerful female characters with a spine-tingling recreation of patriarchal New Salem and a plot that will unite witches everywhere! I loved it! Huge thanks to NetGalley, Orbit and Alix E. Harrow for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Genre: Fantasy / Historical Fantasy
Publication Date: October 15th 2020
Publisher: Orbit / Little, Brown UK
Pages: 528
Rating: 📚📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

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.

My Musings

Right from the very first page, The Once and Future Witches had such a distinctive, atmospheric tone that I actually felt as if I had stepped into a vortex and travelled back in time to 1890s New Salem. The way the opening captures and introduces each Eastwood sister… it’s one of the best openings to a story I’ve read in a long time, it hooked me right in. Harrow’s storytelling was so sharp and effervescent; every single word and sentence meticulously crafted to transport the reader right into the hearts and minds of the Eastwood sisters – I loved it! Language and writing style are so important to me as a reader and the way Harrow told her story is by far my absolute, favourite thing about this novel. 

The story is told through the three perspectives of the Eastwood sisters and each one has their own different style linking to their personalities. James Juniper is wild, feisty and headstrong, Agnes Amaranth has a strong moral compass and an iron will to protect her own and Beatrice Belladonna calls out to every book-loving nerdigan out there. I found there was something to relate to in all of them and I was interested in reading every narrative equally rather than favouring one character over another. 

What’s more, these characters are on a mission! The way the rights of women is merged with the rights of witches – all of that anger and vengeance from oppression and the patriarchy is turned into determined action which keeps driving the storyline forwards like an ongoing march without making the storyline come across as aggressive. A slow-burn Sapphic relationship also sprinkled a little romance into the mix allowing one of the main characters to really come into her own.

The subversion of famous historical male figures was like little Easter Eggs which I loved looking out for. Iterations to the heritage of witches with the presence of the Crone, the Mother, the Maiden and Familiars sang out to my inner history geek whilst the featuring of Avalon and a quest to revive the witching ways by hiding it underneath everyday women’s work appealed to my love of treasure hunting and puzzles.

All in all, The Once and Future Witches was exactly the novel I needed to get me right in the mood for spooky season. It is also one of my favourite representations of witches I’ve read for a long time. A beautifully-written, action-packed piece of witch-lore with characters I will be championing long into the future.

Favourite Quotes:

A new witch-tale, for a new world.

Behind every witch, is a woman wronged.

That’s all magic is really: the space between what you have and what you need.

If you want to blame someone for a fire, look for the men holding matches.

You can tell the wickedness of a witch by the wickedness of her ways.

Why Should I Read This?

For a writing style and atmosphere so brilliantly crafted it will suck you into the pages and back in time.
For the incredible narratives and characters of three very different yet sassy and fierce Eastwood sisters.
For a brilliant blend of contemporary female values intertwined with the heritage of witching and the suffragists.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Little, Brown Book Group | Author’s Instagram | Waterstones | NetGalley | Author’s Twitter | Author’s Website

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email:

Biblioshelf Musings – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Bonjour Bibliofriends,

This review of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab was one of the hardest ones I’ve ever written. I still cannot believe I had the chance to read this as an e-arc from Netgalley and Titan Books (⭐️THANK YOU⭐️ – if I could have written it in flashing neon, I would have done!). It’s my first time reading anything by Schwab and what a way to do it! 

*warning: insane bookish declarations of love will follow…* 
Reading this book put me into a bookish hangover that lasted almost two weeks – I just couldn’t bring myself to read anything else as I was so sad the book had finished – and the way it finished had me crying into my pillow at stupid AM 😂 And even though that sounds like a terrible thing to say about a book – this is the kind of book that I’m living for –
I want to have those lasting impressions
I want to feel that THIS is a story I just cannot live without
I need to have my heart a little broken by the characters and it needs to inspire such a reaction in me that it leaves an imprint on my bookish soul… *I did warn you it’d be a little bit mushy!* 

Book: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: October 6th 2020
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 560
Rating: 📚📚📚📚📚 (ALL THE STARS or 7 stars… if you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean 😉)

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. 

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. 

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After LifeThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Author genre-defying tour de force.

My Musings

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue has completely encapsulated and bewitched my heart!

I absolutely love a gimmick, or a motif/symbol/talisman which contributes to a wider plot (especially when they’re birds). In The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, the artworks at the start of each section did this perfectly – so perfectly in fact that I was looking all over the internet just to see if they are actually real world pieces. These additions reiterate the importance of artwork, creativity and the kind of need humans have to leave some sort of impression or legacy of themselves behind, just to let others know of their existence. Identity is such a powerfully resonating theme in Addie LaRue and this was a wonderful way to bind the whole plot of the novel together whilst also driving it forward both through chronological time and the story’s plotline. 

The timing in the novel is not always linear and sometimes it does jump a little backwards and forwards. I didn’t mind this at all as it added to the build up and mystery of trying to work out where the story was going, but also allowed for me as a reader to be led through the story at Addie’s pace.

I absolutely adore every single character: Henry, Luc, Estele, Bea – they all have their individual quirks and personalities, but I especially love Adeline. Her rawness and vulnerability are perfectly balanced with her fierceness and determination. I felt like I was going through her rollercoaster of emotions in my own head. Her character goes through such a turning point towards the end of the story and that kind of growth and sacrifice was satisfying to read. I picture her almost like a love-child between Blake Lively in The Age of Adaline and Drew Barrymore in Fifty First Dates.

The whole tone of the book is romantic – and I don’t mean romantic in the kind of ‘romance genre’ sense; I mean it in the pre-Raphaelite painting style sense. The whole book is just beautiful – I can’t describe it in any other way. From the way it has been written, to the way the settings are meticulously crafted and contribute to the plot, to Addie’s personality and her supporting characters, to the structuring of the artwork – it is so clear to see how much this story means to its writer, to feel the heart and soul poured into every part of Addie’s story. It is beautiful, exquisite, beguiling and tons more adjectives that I can’t even get out of my brain.

In short, there isn’t a single thing that I don’t love about this book, except the fact that it ended! And the greatest part of all, particularly considering the fate of our main character, that after closing the final page and putting the book down, even after weeks of reflecting upon this novel and this review…
I still remember Addie. 💙

Favourite Quotes:

If a person cannot leave a mark, do they exist?

“But art,” she says with a quieter smile, “art is about ideas. And ideas are wilder than memories.”

If he could have spent his whole life sitting in a lecture hall, taking notes, could have drifted from department to department, haunting different studies, soaking up language and history and art, maybe he would have felt full, happy.

Why Should I Read This?

For the exquisite, heart-stopping storyline.
For the the way artwork, history and a quest for identity are told seamlessly around a plot.
For the sheer tour-de-force and beauty of The Invisible of Addie LaRue.

This book has officially entered the ‘God Tier’ on my bookshelf; it is one of my favourite stories of not just 2020, but my entire lifetime! Please read this book! ☺️

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Titan Books | Author’s Instagram | Waterstones | NetGalley | Macmillan / Tor – Official book Website

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: