Sunday, October 08, 2023

Five new witchy books for Friday the 13th

The 13th of October 2023 falls on Friday. To mark the occasion the staff at Publishers Weekly tagged five new witchy titles, including:
The Bone Roots by Gabriela Houston

For this dark fairy tale, Houston (The Second Bell) spins a lush narrative that gets lost in its own fecund detail. There’s a folkloric simplicity to the premise: two women go to a tree blessed by a goddess—one a noble hoping for a child, the other a witch who has promised to help. They find twin babies hanging from a branch like fruit. Fast-forward 15 years, and wealthy Sladyana believes that her goddess-given daughter has been stolen from her by supernatural forces. Though she takes in a nonspeaking orphan, fostering the child cannot fill the void. Meanwhile Kada, the witch, raises a not-quite-human daughter of her own whom she ferociously guards, fearing exposure of the child’s uncanny nature. Threat appears in the form of a marauding blue-eyed fox, alongside a glossary’s worth of other monstrous beings that Kada overcomes or commands in succession—all while navigating the complex dynamics of family and village. This is a tapestry of a book, wonderfully woven but thin. The Slavic mythology it draws from brings the benefit of novelty, but the fairy tale elements don’t quite come together to lend emotive meaning to Houston’s decorative prose. Fans of fabulist literature hoping for depth should look elsewhere, but readers seeking pure story, lovingly told, will find plenty to savor.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue