Been a slow drip of reading to start the month. So slow that I keep forgetting I actually finished this book a week ago and have been putting off this review. I liked it when I finished it and seven days later, I find myself appreciating it even more.
I’ve now read through Rachel Harrison’s whole catalog, save her short story collection. Not a big fan of reading short story collections but I may need to get to hers because she’s a fun writer and I’m bummed that I don’t have anything else of hers to read. Each book has a similar theme: a woman at a crossroads in her life. How she gets in and out of jams (or if she does) requires some aspect of horror, a horror Harrison recycles in a fresh way that is both clever and makes you feel a deeper appreciation for said character.
This one centers around a woman who is doing the stereotypical Leave The City/Leave The Negligent Ex routine when she comes under the spell — in some cases literally — of a witch who holds an entire upstate New York town in her thrall. As she develops her relationship with this woman while trying to build new relationships outside of her life, she has to discern if her decisions are really her own and what kind of agency she has over her life.
This could have fallen into predictable cheese but there’s an earnestness with which Harrison tackles these issues that makes you feel for the MC and appreciate her flawed and imperfect journey. I enjoyed it way up to the end, when Harrison takes it another level and really makes one sit with the pain and reality of transition and whether or not it is a good thing.
Also, this is billed as horror but unlike her others, I think this is more of a fantasy. There is the requisite body horror aspects of it but aside from the presence of a witch (and some light horror-y things), I think this can be viewed in a broader category if straight up horror isn’t your thing.
I really hope Harrison writes more. It’s pretty clear I love her stuff.