The Witches of New York
Witches in 1880s New York is a delightful enough premise that I will read a book. Ami McKay's The Witches of New York goes above and beyond that premise to an engaging and fun (and a bit dark) tale of three witches living in New York. Eleanor, Adelaide, and Beatrice all find each other and fight the dark forces in New York. Eleanor and Adelaide run a shop called "Tea and Sympathy," where women come for "whispered confessions, secret cures, and spiritual assignations for a select society of ladies, who speak the right words and ask the right questions."
The story reminded me of the spinoff of Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, in that it pitted the church against magic. And while that movie was terrible (focusing on the abuse of children and employing an abusive actor, Depp), the split between religion and magic was clear. McKay's story is *way* more of a tale of (white) female empowerment — the villains are all men who abuse women — but still left much to be desired. For example, Eleanor, a lesbian, pines over her ex-lover, Lucy, now married. But that plot is never resolved. Or does McKay write about what must've been the difficulties of being gay in Victorian New York! Alas. You are rooting for Beatrice to succeed, and the harrowing tale of her capture (I won't spoil) is difficult to read. I also wish we got more of her recovery from trauma.
The core of the story is about persecution and hysteria over women's autonomy, and McKay does a wondrous job of crafting a New York where magic lingers just under the surface. And I love those types of stories — where places I live, places I could live in, could be magic. If I look hard enough. PS. If you are the person who recommended this book to me, please tell me!! I cannot remember and I am desperate to discuss it!