The Orphan Witch
reviewed by Pam Guynn
Paige Crutcher bring suspense, heartbreak, magic, and hope to her debut novel The Orphan Witch. Persephone May has been lonely all of her life. She was abandoned at six weeks and grew up in group and foster homes. Baffling things happen around her so she doesn’t stay long anywhere.
At thirty-two, she is still frequently moving from place to place. When she displays power accidentally, Persephone knows it’s time to travel again. On her way to somewhere, she gets an email from a person she met a year ago inviting her to Wile Isle, North Carolina. That’s where she heads. But things aren’t as they seem. Who can be trusted? Has she found a place to belong or is this just another nightmare visit?
Persephone is definitely someone you want to find happiness, friends, and a sense of belonging. But much stands in her way, including a 100-year-old curse, a family feud, and much more. She has a lot of character depth and shows significant growth over the course of the novel. The secondary characters have varying goals that keep the story fresh and provide some surprises. It was easy to connect with multiple characters.
The author did a great job of transporting me to this community with believable, but complicated world-building. The setting is largely contemporary, with one chapter set 100 years earlier and a few visits to other worlds, times, or dimensions. I did want the contemporary town to be better described. Other than that, the imagery was extraordinary. Persephone’s odd powers are unique and lend another dimension to the well-written story. Time walking and the Library for the Lost provided unique avenues for the story to unfold.
Despite being somewhat slow in a couple of places, it kept my interest. After about halfway, the action picks up and the suspense and danger builds. Close attention to the detail is important to understanding everything that is occurring. Themes include loneliness, family, family history, sisterhood, feuds, curses, power, greed, subterfuge, love, heartbreak, death, sacrifice, epic clashes, strength of character, and finding one’s place in the world.
Overall, I enjoyed this original and atmospheric novel. It was an entertaining book that was emotionally intense and pulled at this reader’s heartstrings and had a few twists along the way. If you are a fan of suspenseful stories about witches with a fight between good and evil, then you may want to check out this novel.
St. Martin’s Press – St. Martin’s Griffin and Paige Crutcher provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for September 28, 2021.