Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell is a fantastical and spooky novella that tells the story of three women in a small town who realize that the superstore wanting to move in is much worse than it seems. I love stories that depict witches in the modern day masquerading as strange women. This novella includes a wonderfully prickly old lady, a priest in a crisis of faith, and an atheist new-age shop owner, who all have more power than they first appear to.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Witches of Lychford from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell
Published by Tor.com on Sept. 18th, 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Fantasy, Novella
Page Length: 144 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Traveler, Cleric, Witch.
The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.
Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth -- that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination.
But if she is to have her voice heard, she's going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies...
- The magic in Witches of Lychford is clearly inspired by the new-age Wiccan faith, which takes inspiration from European druidic practices as well as many other places where it suits ;-). I like the almost magical realism quality that this sort of magic often has since many people do believe in these rituals in modern day, so it is always interesting to look for indications of magic actually happening in the story instead of just belief.
- There are three very different main characters in this novella: the older woman, the priest, and the shop-owner. It is great to see a variety of women with their own strengths and beliefs coming together to solve a mystery, instead of the trope of the lone female warrior.
- I’m continually impressed with how much can be fit into a novella and this one is no exception. The character development of all three women is both moving and remarkable. I feel so connected to these women after just a hundred pages because I’ve seen them work through their own problems in addition to saving their town.
- I wasn’t too scared, but the villain of this novella is seriously spooky. Especially in the beginning, there are things hiding in the shadows and waiting for your defenses to fall, which of course just makes you want to read further to find out what happens ;-).
- The ending of Witches of Lychford is pretty open-ended and not as neat as novel readers are likely to expect. I kind of hope that that means there might be another novella? I just really need to know what happens next.
- There are times that the story slows down a bit since the plot is less action-based than sleuthing and planning. I didn’t mind so much since it’s a short page count, but it’s good to know going in I think.
Witches of Lychford is an enjoyable novella for fans of witches in the modern day and a story that is a bit different. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a sequel novella to answer some of the remaining questions left at the end, but be prepared for an open ending for now.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell
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