Today’s review is on a book that has sat on my TBR shelf for the better part of three years.
I have been wanting to read The Witches of New York by Ami McKay ever since I bought a signed first edition in my local bookstore.
Was The Witches of New York worth the wait? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
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The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
Publisher: Orion (October 8, 2016)
Print Length: 320 pages
Audiobook Length: 14 hrs and 17 mins
Narrator: Laurence Bouvard
The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (Moth from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and gardien de sorts (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients. All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment.
Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.
As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?
While The Witches of New York is an atmospheric look at three ‘witches’ in the 1880’s, it is good to be aware that this is a companion novel to McKay’s other writing.
The Witches of New York tells the fantastical tale of Adelaide, Eleanor, and Beatrice. Three very different women, with three very different upbringings, with three very different abilities, trying to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
Ami McKay is a very, very good writer. Her descriptions of New York in the 1880’s felt as if I was taking a guided tour of this historically gritty city. She was also able to accurately portray the role of women during this time, which made me both agitated, because of the second class nature of women in the 19th century, and interested to learn more about this time period. I also thoroughly enjoyed how the novel was portrayed within the magical realism genre instead of straight up paranormal. Were the characters of Adelaide, Eleanor, and Beatrice actually witches? Or is there some other explanation? You’ll have to read the novel to find out.
I feel like where this book and I disconnected was with the characters, more specifically with the character of Adelaide ‘Moth’ Thom. Going into this novel I was under the impression that it was a standalone. However, the character of Moth is first introduced to readers in the The Virgin Cure, published in 2011. Due to the character being previously fleshed out, I was left wanting more from her character, and in turn the other characters, even going so far as to say I was disconnected from my reading experience because of my lack of understanding of the character.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on The Witches of New York by Ami McKay. Have any paranormal historical fiction recommendations you’d like to share? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.