Every once in a while, I come across a book that begs, BEGS, to be a tv series, or a graphic novel. Gwenda Bond’s Mr. & Mrs. Witch would translate so well into a visual medium. I keep throwing in graphic novel as an option, because some of the more fantastical elements would need very good special effects. I would love to see Mother Circe’s cabin on chicken legs, the witches flying on brooms, and the familiars shifting forms.
The book opens on Savvy and Griffin’s wedding day. Savvy’s friends and her mother are not on board with the wedding, and neither are Griffin’s friends and family (except his mother). Savvy and Griffin belong to opposing organizations, Savvy is a witch with C.R.O.N.E. and Griffin belongs to a group that protects the world from the supernatural, especially from witches. Neither knows of the other’s affiliation, and each is sure they can keep their identity hidden from the other.
Before vows can be exchanged, the handbasket to hell express arrives, secret identities are exposed, vows of revenge are made, and everyone retreats to their separate headquarters. The leader of each organization, Mother Circe for the witches and the Butcher for the hunters, demands that Savvy and Griffin kill each other. When that doesn’t happen quickly, they are both kicked out of their respective organizations and bounties are placed on their heads. Almost everyone thinks there is something fishy about how fast Mother Circe and the Butcher turn on Savvy and Griffin, and indeed there is. Among the current events, we get flashbacks to how they met and fell in love.
Even with the flashbacks, the story moves quickly. I struggled a bit with the narrative point of view. Mr. & Mrs. Witch is told by a close third person present narrator, so we are outside of the point of view character’s head, but we know what they are thinking and feeling. This pov left me feeling at a distance at times, so I was reading for plot, not emotional connections. Sometimes this works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. This time it mostly did. I think part of the reason I kept wanting it to be in a more visual format was because I had to work harder to engage with the text. But I really do want to see Mother Circe’s chicken house in action, and Diego’s bottle trees, and to see the familiars in all their shapes. Struggles with the narrator aside, I did enjoy this. I do want to note that the two organizations seem to be divided on gender lines. That may be a result of the rot at the top. I don’t get the sense that Bond herself is a gender essentialist.
CW: attempted murder, murder witnessed in the past, necromancy, implied abuse of familiars
I received this as an advance reader copy from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.