Harriet Bishop, descended from a long line of witches, uses magic to help women in need — not only ordinary women, but also those with powers of their own. She must intervene when a distant cousin wields dangerous magic to change the lives of two unsuspecting young people… one of whom might just be a witch herself.
Frances Allington has used her wiles and witchcraft to claw her way out of poverty and into a spectacular marriage with one of New York’s wealthiest new tycoons. She is determined to secure the Allingtons’ position amongst the city’s elite Four Hundred families by any means necessary — including a scheme to make a glorious aristocratic match for her headstrong and reluctant step-daughter, Annis, using the same strange power with which she ensnared Annis’s father.
To save Annis from this dark magic, Harriet reveals to her Frances’ misuse of their shared birthright and kindles in Annis her own nascent powers. Together, Harriet and Annis must resist her stepmother’s agenda, lest she — and the dashing young lord she suspects she could come to love — lose their freedom, and possibly their lives.
Honestly, I had some trepidation about reading this book, at first. Was a late-19th Century Period Piece about Witches for me? Author Louisa Morgan answered my question right away and put my mind at ease with her writing. More than just being “worth reading”, The Age of Witches is a fantastic book.
I mentioned the idea that it is set in the late-19th Century, and that can be a source of uneasiness for me at times. Books that are set 100+ years ago do not always hold my interest, oftentimes being too slow-paced and, frankly, they come off as boring. But, while the narrative of The Age of Witches is slow-paced, it is far from boring. The writing was really good, and I enjoyed the plot. This is my first Louisa Morgan title, and I can tell I would probably love anything the author writes. This book has an immersive quality to it; once I was in it I just wanted to stay there. I can sometimes be a fast reader, ramming through words and phrases to absorb as much story as possible in one sitting. This is not that kind of book. I took it slow, let the story come to me, enjoying the atmosphere.
While I speak of “atmosphere” and “immersive writing”, I do not want to misrepresent: this is very much a character-driven book. Much of the reader’s time is spent with Annis, the main protagonist. A young witch just coming into her own, who for much of the story is battling family expectations at the time of marriage and money and legacy. But she is strong and independent, fighting to find her own way. Annis’ stepmother, Frances, does not make it easy for her. Frances is a socialite who plans on using Annis and her availability to climb the social ladder. Frances also happens to be a strong witch, and is not afraid to use her powers to get what she wants. Enter Harriet, one of Frances’ cousins. A powerful witch in her own right, Harriet considers herself a magical gatekeeper of sorts. Having experienced the downside of misusing magic for personal gain, she steps in to defend Annis from Frances’ spells. The result is enthralling. What we end up with in this story is three witches fighting for power, each with their own motives. There are spells and manikins and ALL-OUT MAGIC WITCH BATTLES. Reading this book was an enjoyable experience, and I could not put it down.
The thing that put this book over the top for me was how unique the story is. This is not your typical turn-of-the-century, burn-them-at-the-stake story about witches. This is a feminist-themed story of a woman coming of age at at the turn of the century, with elements of family and loyalty and love. The fact that they are witches that use magic is more of a backdrop to the main plot line. I love the magical element of it because it that brings a component to the plot that I find enjoyable, but make no mistake: it is the push-and-pull aspect of Annis’ storyline that makes the book great.
In the end, I had nothing to worry about. I loved this book. From the great storytelling to the characters that were easy to connect with to the magic… what’s not to like? Honestly, the moment I finished I went looking for the next Louisa Morgan book to add to my TBR. The Age of Witches undoubtedly comes with my recommendation.