It’s the end of February already! Here’s a quick round up of the few Februwitchy books I did manage to get to. If you need a reminder of what was on my original TBR, that’s here, and my halfway check-in is here.
A Sudden Wild Magic by Diana Wynne Jones
This was an unexpected DNF for me! I love Diana Wynne Jones in general – I think she was an absolute genius at writing fantasy that feels warm and clever – but I just really couldn’t get on with this at all. It’s a sort-of portal fantasy, with witches from our world entering a parallel world to try to destroy it by seducing its leadership, and it feels incredibly dated. I really couldn’t see any glimpses of what felt like her writing in here – if you’d have told me this was written by an American man in the 1970s I’d have believed you. The sexual politics and depictions of women are really dated, and I realised around the halfway mark that I had yet to connect to a single female character because they were all so weirdly written. I’m a lifelong DWJ fan, but I’m writing this book off as a failed experiment.
A Tangle of Spells by Michelle Harrison
This book, on the other hand, was brilliant. I’ve really enjoyed the adventures of the Widdershins sisters so far (review of A Pinch of Magic here and A Sprinkle of Sorcery here) and this might be my favourite yet. It’s surprisingly creepy for middle grade, but still fun and exciting. I thought I’d guessed one of the twists early on, but I was only half right! I’m really looking forward to book four, which has just come out.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow
I’ve been making and failing plans to read this book for over a year, and eventually, I just had to accept that there was never going to be a perfect time, and just read it! I want to write up a full review for this soon, so I won’t say too much here, but I thought this was really good, if not as perfectly suited for me as The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I’m actually glad I didn’t pick this up until now, because it has a really intense plot centred around pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood that I would absolutely have struggled with even six months ago, and I think I would have liked the whole book a lot less if I’d read it any earlier.
Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
The third Tiffany Aching book was really enjoyable, after a shaky start where I felt like I must have skipped a book! I like her as a heroine and I like the way that witchcraft is shown as a kind of social work; it’s very warm and down-to-earth. I’m also enjoying the way she ages up through the books so far. I’ll echo what I said about the second book, that these don’t seem to sit quite right as children’s books for me, but I’m glad I’m reading them.
Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber
This is another book I intend to write a full review for, so all I’ll say is that it’s a fast-paced and fun YA fantasy that just romps through the tropes. I’m baffled by the blurbs describing it as a rom-com, as neither of the romances is very prominent and it’s really just not a comedy (or even funny apart from one or two lines!), but what it is is perfect for fans of The Selection or any of that kind of lightly-court-based, classic YA fantasy. It was a good time, anyway.
Youngest by Jamie Lee Moyer
I adored Moyer’s Brightfall (review here), which featured a middle-aged Maid Marian as a mother on a quest, so I was keen to read another story from her that featured a slightly older heroine in a forest setting. This didn’t end up working for me quite as well, but I think that’s down to the Old West historical setting not being a favourite of mine in the way that the magical English forest was; it was still very good, and if you like slow-burn historical fantasy with a very small-scale setting, it will very much be your cup of tea.
So that’s me done with witches for the month! I didn’t manage to finish Wild and Wicked Things, but I got around 100 pages in, so hopefully I’ll finish it in the next day or so – and with the extra book I read in the first half of the month, I did in fact manage thirteen wonderfully witchy reads for Februwitchy, which I’m really happy with. If you joined in, I’d love to hear all about your Februwitchy reads, so please do link me up below!