STARRED REVIEW
April 07, 2020

The Age of Witches

By Louisa Morgan
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An Austen-esque romance, a heart-racing mystery full of dangerous twists and an anxiety-inducing yet enthralling family feud, Louisa Morgan’s The Age of Witches is anything but a traditional tale of good versus evil. This historical fantasy follows three strong-willed, Gilded Age New York women who share a common ancestor Bridget Byshop, executed as a purported enchantress during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Morgan thrusts readers into the lives of these very different, yet appealing, characters right away. Frances’ struggles early on in life have caused her to constantly desire more, and her loveless marriage to older, nouveau riche George Allington has staled her passion for life. Annis is Frances’ headstrong stepdaughter, whose interests include caring for her purebred horses, overseeing their progeny and evading marriage and the control of men. Harriet is Frances’ cousin and Annis’ great-aunt, a revered herbalist who lives in the shadows but who seems to have a propensity for other miracles and mysterious happenings.

This energetically paced novel bounces between the three women’s lives, building to a battle over the use of their magical gift (or curse?) called the maleficia, a powerful strain of magic that leaves a dark imprint on the wielder and can tear the soul and conscience from one’s powers. It’s clear that while Frances is willing to utilize the family talent to her advantage—no matter the cost—Harriet and the newly-inducted Annis must discover how to stop her machinations before Annis is wed off for the sake of a title and financial gain.

The Age of Witches’ eloquent, flowery prose will please fans of Victorian British classics, and her detailed descriptions and attention to detail bring the locations and historical period to vivid life. New Yorkers will certainly recognize familiar locations in the picturesque setting, and for romance fans, the chemistry between Annis and an eventual suitor is palpable and skin-tingling. The Bishops’ magic is powerful yet elegant, far from some gaudy Halloween spectacle, and requires wisdom and skill to wield.

Morgan whisks up a tale of legacy and feminist might as the Bishop women take charge of their destinies—and sometimes the destinies of others. From eerie cantrips to lifelike manikins, the magic in The Ages of Witches relies on imagination, instinct and intuition. It all makes for a perfect brew of meticulous skill and focused intention as the Bishops battle over their entangled lineage and futures.

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The Age of Witches

The Age of Witches

By Louisa Morgan
Redhook
ISBN 9780316419512

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