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Review: Now She is Witch - Kirsty Logan

Genre: Magical Realism/Fantasy

Published: Harvill Secker, January 2023

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

“Perhaps coming so close to death, then stepping clean out of its jaws, made the world seem lighter.”

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. With her signature style, intricately woven storylines and simply stunning prose, Kirsty Logan did it again. I already suspected this woman to be a word-witch, and with this latest novel, she put her spell on me again…

Now She is Witch opens with a the stark image of our protagonist Lux burying the remains of her mother in a poison garden. Having lost not just her mother, but her home and roots to accusations of witchcraft, Lux sets of on a journey into the woods. What follows is her life’s travels, making her way from a group of vagrant theatre plays, to a final position as the kings food taster, all the while accompanied by a mysterious woman named Else, who she grows closely connected to.

This novel clearly falls in that neo-subgenre of “feminist-witch-fiction” has become so oversaturated in the past few years that I thought I was done with it. Although Logan’s take on it strikes some of the same beats, she made it feel fresher, darker and yet more tender than any I’ve read before.

This is a story of feminism, but not the obvious shouty-kind I’ve seen in the genre before. It’s about ghosts, grief, poisons and nature, motherhood, love and learning to trust in life again. It’s clearly a story of feminism, but not the obvious shouty-kind I’ve seen in the genre before. It’s also about ghosts, grief, poisons and nature, motherhood, love in all its different forms and learning to trust in life again. 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.

Although Logan’s style may not be for everyone, there’s no denying her incredible skill as an author. On a technical level, she keeps getting stronger and stronger with every release, and Now She is Witch is near perfection. Its pacing, its structure and its internally consistent motifs (Earthliness, light vs dark and the culmination of events at an equinox, the different “roles” a woman plays e.g. the maiden, the mother and the crown…) are so well thought out. Not even to mention the beautiful circularity of the story, and the way that shards from the first page fall into place and are mirrored once we reach the ending.

Now She is Witch has me sleeping easy again in the knowledge that I can keep my self-appointed position as chair of the unofficial Kirsty Logan fanclub. It may not be everyone’s favourite, but “objectively”, I feel like it’s her strongest work to date. Honestly, what I wouldn't give for a sliver, a morsel, a grain of sand in the oyster of this woman's writing-capability...

Find this book here on Goodreads.


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