“Let that be a lesson to you” her mother had said wagging her finger at her daughter. “Those who use magic to find what they seek, may not always like what they find.”
After meeting Ami McKay at the Grimsby Author series, I was excited to finish reading her third novel, The Witches of New York. Her enthusiasm and well-researched knowledge of the history of women’s rights and witches, combined with well-written fiction form an engaging novel that makes the reader consider how lucky we are to live in today’s day and age – and in Canada!
The novel intertwines the stories of 3 strong women: Adelaide Thom (Moth from The Virgin Cure), Eleanor St. Clair and Beatrice Dunn. Adelaide and Eleanor run the Tea and Sympathy shop where women visit to have a cup of tea, their palms read and discuss women’s issues at a time where women had little control over their own lives and reproductive health. Responding to a help wanted advertisement, the young Beatrice arrives to apprentice with the two witches and discovers her own magical talents.
The novel takes place in 1880, at a time when New York was fascinated with the arrival of Cleopatra’s Needle, an Egyptian Obelisk. Readers discover what has happened to Adelaide (Moth) following her departure from the sideshow including learning about a disfiguring attack. They meet Eleanor and discover her family history of magic and they come to appreciate the young Beatrice who had grown up with her Aunt to be strong and independent. The three women support each other as they run the tea shop under the watchful eye of a precocious crow named Perdu and spirits who protect and support them.
I love that this book connects with McKay’s family history and deals with women’s rights at a time where they are being challenged by politics south of the border. Meeting the author added to my experience in reading this fantastic book! Ami McKay grew up in Indiana but now lives in Nova Scotia where she likes to “keep bees, tend my garden, talk to ravens, and shake the branches of my family tree looking for stories to stare back at me from between its leaves.”
Reading this book makes me want to reread both The Birth House and The Virgin Cure which I have previously enjoyed. As well, many of my readers know that I have a handful of authors on my “list” of people that I would love to have lunch with and I have added McKay to my growing list!
To learn more about the author event I attended click here.