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Now She is Witch: ‘Myth-making at its best‘ Val McDermid

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In this witch story unlike any other, Lux and Else join forces to take their revenge on a powerful man. It throws you in at the deep end and slowly unravels a story around you -- whilst simultaneously weaving a tapestry of imagery and very modern observation that really draws the imagination in. From the snowy winter woods to the bright midnight sun; from lost and powerless to finding your path, Now She is Witch conjures a world where women grasp at power through witchcraft, sexuality and performance, and sometimes by throwing each other to the wolves. The realness of all these elements, in conjunction with the magical atmosphere of the setting and prose, made Lux’s story hit home all the harder. The arrival of a mysterious stranger named Else, just as a group of locals look set to attack Lux in her garden, starts the novel off with a bang.

The book also has enough action to keep you on your toes, while the other chapters; where the author takes the reader to reminisce about her characters’ past are long enough to slow your speeding heart rate a little. Normally, this might be a little frustrating, but Kirsty Logan manages it so deftly that what it does is hook you further and further into the story. Throughout the book, people retell their stories back to them, twisting them so the women become the villains, seductresses, witches. Any who assume agency are swiftly denounced and brutally dealt with: those labelled witches are tied to poles in the sea and left to slowly drown; others guilty of lesser offences (talking too much, too loudly or indeed at all) are paraded around in scold’s bridles, torture devices deployed to humiliate.the stream of consciousness parts felt super random and were incredibly hard to read so i had to skip them completely. The journey of Lux, and her strange companion Else, feels eerily familiar, showing how even after centuries, women with power are still held with suspicion.

For Lux and Else trail the weighty plumes of traumatic pasts, which Logan skilfully offers us in passages of backstory that sing, screech and skip through the novel in the way records are marked by jagged scratches. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. I think one of the scariest points of the book was when one of the kitchen girls was not allowed to be around or tend the food because she was on her period and her unholiness would spoil the food. I couldn’t help but feel the heavy burden on my chest when I realised; nothing much had changed since then. From the snowy winter woods to the bright midnight sun; from lost and powerless to finding your path, Now She is Witch conjures a world of violence and beauty - a world where women grasp at power through witchcraft, sexuality and performance, and most of all through throwing each other to the wolves.

Kirsty Logan is the author of three novels, three story collections, a memoir, two chapbooks, a 10-hour audio play for Audible, and several collaborative projects with musicians and visual artists.

The strength of this novel is less in the plot but in the way the various characters navigate the strange, otherworldly realm that they inhabit. Kirsty Logan's mesmerising and evocative novel represents an imaginative triumph in this new subgenre [of "witch lit"]. Die Zwischenparts mit Lux' und Elses Geschichte waren teils mühsam, aber am Ende kam alles rund zusammen. Having lost not just her mother, but her home and roots to accusations of witchcraft, Lux sets of on a journey into the woods. Mothers and daughters, witches and herbalists, masked mummers and cursed rabbits as hauntings all inhabit the pages of this dreamlike novel that reads like a dark European folktale.I was looking forward to sinking into her newest novel, but I found myself distanced from it throughout. I'm sure other readers will love this, but it did not compare to Logan's previously published novels or short stories for me. The plot was so compelling, the pacing perfect, it just flowed beautifully, exactly what I’d expect from Kirsty Logan and her skilful writing. It’s little wonder that for a time Lux, who as the novel progresses becomes in turn an actor on a frozen stage, a servant in a hall of delicacies, a food-taster to a lord and companion to a fine lady, is tempted to turn her back on Else’s revenge and set her own dreams of finding freedom in the wild country aside.

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