Countless authors shared their craft and spun tales for The Book of Witches: An Anthology. This collection of stories is vast, and I am impressed by the variety of witches that enchant its pages. There are so many stories that I cannot possibly review them all, but I will share an overview and my recommendation for readers to become spellbound by this book.
The Book of Witches is a cauldron bubbling over with stories. It’s over 500 pages long and features 28 fantasy and sci-fi authors including QTL favorites P. Djèlí Clark, Tade Thompson, Ken Liu, Cassandra Khaw, and Premee Mohamed among others. The content ranges from stories to poems and even songs. While I certainly have my favorites like The Nine Jars of Nukulu, She Who Makes the Rain, The Unexpected Excursion of the Murder Mystery Writing Witches, Just a Nudge, and The Academy of Oracular Magic, I enjoyed every entry.
Editor Jonathan Strahan speaks true when he says there is a witch for everyone in this anthology. You will encounter a diverse coven of witches that will spark admiration, fear, and pity. The witches inhabit fantastical lands, oppressive futuristic states, and familiar settings such as post-COVID Los Angeles. They travel by hot air balloons, chicken-leg houses, broomsticks sporting armchairs, or they simply walk about. They can become crows, work as nurses, travel through dreamscapes, or make mirrors. They are good and bad and somewhere in between and they help, hurt, and are harmed. There are so many ways the witch has been honored and reimagined in this anthology that I guarantee you will discover a new version of this enticing figure to love.
I was not prepared for how emotional it would be to read tale after tale of powerful, lonely, hunted, misunderstood, and feared individuals. Many authors used this opportunity to showcase how easily our fear can be manipulated into violence and how easily blame can be shifted to anyone not fitting the status quo. C.L. Clark tells the story of a transgender witch shunned by his family and barred from his power. One particularly chilling tale by E. Lily Yu follows a charismatic man with a portable crematorium who has incited Salem witch trial energy across America. There are more somber stories, like P. Djèlí Clark’s depiction of a witch who is adored until she isn’t, and how ugly things can become. But there are also triumphant tales of empowered and celebrated witches and even witches who aren’t the main event but make life a little weirder.
The Book of Witches is a charming collection of stories that are guaranteed to entertain and inspire. I read the anthology quickly for this review, but it is a brew that should be sipped and savored so that you can sit with the enchanting lessons the authors impart in such a few short pages. The entire anthology is a powerful potion and will inspire you to reflect on who is labeled as a witch and why some are celebrated while others are vilified.
Rating: The Book of Witches – An Anthology – 8.5/10
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The thoughts on this story are my own.