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

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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. Now She Is Witch meditates on these issues and Logan's stance is explicitly made clear, yet it never feels like it's too much. Logan’s novel is often brutal and visceral with graphic scenes that recreate the simmering violence of a time marked by its elaborate forms of discipline and punishment: the mortification of the flesh through flagellation; scolds’ bridals used on “outspoken” women; hunted animals; and plague victims boarded up and left to die. The plot was so compelling, the pacing perfect, it just flowed beautifully, exactly what I’d expect from Kirsty Logan and her skilful writing.

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. What I enjoyed the most is how each chapter had a different title (the first part at least) and the title defined Lux (Maiden, Poisoner, Wolf etc) and showed the different roles and labels women can be categorised into. 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. Else wants Lux’s help in getting some good old-fashioned revenge and Lux, who has her mind fixed on travelling north to a land where freedom reigns and witches thrive, teams up with her. In this witch story unlike any other, Lux and Else join forces to take their revenge on a powerful man.

Now She Is Witch is a beautiful and twisted dark tale of feminine power in a time when a woman with power was deemed to be in league with the devil. This is outstanding: a world that runs parallel to our own, full of the graceless hypocrisies of men and the petty (and not-so-petty) cruelties of disempowered women. 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. i don't know why the author felt the need to mention fecal matters so many times but it felt extremely out of place.

Wordsmith extraordinaire Kirsty Logan has written what is possibly her best novel yet in a tale that feels as old as the hills but sparkles with formal inventiveness.

Scottish author Kirsty Logan blends historical fact with folklore and fairy tale to construct an unusual variation on a ghost story and queer, coming-of-age narrative.

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. Logan’s examination of issues of gender and power may not be desperately original but it’s thoughtful and heartfelt.

Now She Is Witch is part historical, part fantasy, an entwined mix of the two genres, such that you find yourself not quite sure. Again, this is hard to explain, and all I can really do is tell you to read it to find out, but there’s something magical about it, combined with the occasionally experimental nature of it (there are entire sections which are someone telling their part of the story, for example), which adds to the folktale feeling. 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. The few cases in which midwives were accused of witchcraft, their jobs as midwives were often coincidental.

In rich and immersive prose Kirsty Logan conjures a world of violence and beauty in which women grasp at power through witchcraft and poisons, through sexuality and childbearing, through performance and pretence, and most of all through throwing other women to the wolves. But Lux is cunning; she knows how to exploit people's expectations, how to blend into the background. But there’s something about Kirsty Logan’s writing that seems to transcend the story itself; that reaches into the heart of a deep, dark, hidden history and pulls out a truth that resonates down the ages. Although Logan’s style may not be for everyone, there’s no denying her incredible skill as an author. It will definitely go down as one of my top reads of the year, and possibly one of my all-time favourites too.

This book is mostly dark, tense and somehow claustrophobic, absolutely crammed with atmosphere, and it's pretty much everything I'd like a book with witches in to be. to the right of their own function and the choice and forge of their own fate and future with their wisdom that comes from the biggest goddess of all; Mother Earth. Lux’s goal is to avenge a terrible crime committed against her enigmatic, travelling companion Else. The mummers sections had a "Midsummer Nights Dream" feel about it, and loved the way that they were a band of waifs and strays. It’s not a rehashed version of another witch trial, it’s taking the notion of witches and demonstrating the roles women have been forced to play for centuries, and the level of violence and scorn thrown their way by men and society throughout history.

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