Actually feeling ok today for the first time in a minute, despite having gotten basically no sleep last night. Trying not to over-extend now so that I can keep up this level of energy. Just enjoying my flowers and my reading, getting my work done, and trying to keep my mind focused and calm.
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Review: The Witch Haven (Sasha Peyton Smith)
“I think perhaps this is how we survive in the world. Passing little bits of our magic back and forth to each other when the world takes it from us. It’s survival. It’s love. It’s family.”
This was so, SO good. I tend to really love historical fantasy, and the witches and magic and time period and location were ultimately *chef's kiss*
Frances Hallowell works as a seamstress, until the day she kills her boss with a pair of scissors and a little magic. When a pair of women cart her off to a "sanitarium" for conveniently-timed tuberculosis treatment, she expects nothing short of a prison sentence...but instead, she finds Haxahaven Academy, a place for young witches to hone their talents. Frances is distracted, however, by the death of her brother months earlier. The killer is still at large, and all Frances wants to do is see her brother again, by any means necessary. The sisterhood formed with her fellow witches, and a potential budding romance with a new flame, may allow her to do just that - depending on how far she's willing to go, and how much magic she can control.
It's no secret that witches are one of my favourite things to read about. Give me light contemporary-ish witches, dark and intense horror witches, middle-of-the-road teen fantasy witches...I absolutely devour all of it, and I adore it. The combo of witches and historical fantasy had me chomping at the bit to get to this one, and I'm ultimately very happy with the results.
Frances is such a wonderful MC. She's vulnerable but never weak, strong but willing to learn, and curious but not dumb in any way. The ways that she embraces her witchy-ness and asks questions and probes deeper into what's happening around her are really fascinating and make for an intriguing read right from the start. She's naive in some ways, but as a human, she's got her wits about her fairly consistently, and it made her a really sympathetic character.
The plot here was a little bit meandering at times, which is why I take off half a star. After we get to Haxahaven, there are a few chapters where I just kept waiting for *something* to happen, and I just wish it happened a little bit sooner to avoid losing momentum. However, there are lots of plotlines at play here, from Haxahaven to the Sons to bodies washing ashore without hands to not one but two potential romances. Somehow, it never feels like too much, and the intersections are a ton of fun.
The heart of this one is in the sisterhood that Frances finds at school, and I absolutely adored Lena and Maxine. I love the representation, I love them as characters, I love that Frances is as focused on finding those female friendships as she is on nurturing the romance in her life. It's so wonderful to experience alongside her how great girls can be, and what she was missing out on in her grief after her brother's death.
This one is such a great time. I'm both sad that it's a standalone and so pleased at how everything wrapped up and ended in such a satisfying way. I want more! But I also love a book that is whole enough to leave me feeling like I don't *need* more.
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I made an Iliad Character Quiz instead of doing something useful with my time, because that's just the kind of summer I'm having. You should take it!
The quiz has both men and women, both Achaeans and Trojans, so it's an equal opportunity ass-beating. I used some non-Homeric sources for the narrative after Hector's funeral, mainly Euripides' The Trojan Women, but if you @ me about the title I’ll cry softly into my hands.
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