After an accident involving her Dad and sister, Violet joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a quiet coastal town, which has an unpleasant history as the site of famous 17th century witch trials. Violet quickly finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, alongside Robin, Grace, and Alex – led by their charismatic art teacher, Annabel.
While Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals – warning the girls off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology – the girls start to believe that magic is real, and that they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society – Robin’s best friend, with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance – is found dead on campus nine months after she disappeared, Violet begins to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.
I’d been looking forward to reading The Furies for such a long time, so was so grateful when Angharad passed her ARC onto me after finishing it!
After joining a prestigious all girls school, Violet finds herself becoming part of a group of misfits, Robin, Grace and Alex, who all attend a secretive study group ran by Annabel, the art teacher. The girls welcome her into the group easily due to her striking resemblance to Robin’s previous best friend Emily – a girl who was also a member of the club and disappeared. Violet’s isolation after the death of her father and sister in a crash that she survived, alongside the withdrawal of her mother who’s drowning in grief, leads her to become obsessed with the girls, especially Robin, and the two of them delve into the school’s dark past of being a site where witch trials took place. Annabel’s secret classes lead the girls to tales of the Greek Furies, who they attempt to summon in order to deal with their own vendettas. Violet’s love for Robin leads her down darker paths, and as the book is written from Violet’s perspective as an adult looking back, she struggles to see what was real and what wasn’t during their teenage years.
The Furies, at it’s heart, is a novel showcasing the toxicity that female friendships can lead to, but it’s so different to other novels with this theme. Rather than it being yet another ‘good girl meets bad girl’ story, the girls truly believe that their knowledge has made them worthy of summoning vengeance spirits to dish out punishments where they see necessary. Violet very much fits the trope of the plain, innocent new girl who’s led astray by the object of her obsession, and she’s a fascinating character to read. She pushes aside other friendships, her deteriorating relationship with her mother and her schoolwork for the brightness that the girls shine on her in the sleepy grey seaside town they live in. Despite the writing style making the book seem ethereal and beautiful, a general feeling of grime and decay permeates through the atmosphere of it, reminding you that nothing can go well from Violet’s newfound friendships.
Although many of the girls actions could be immediately pointed out as being wrong, I definitely saw them all as being quite morally grey characters due to them being so adamant that their vengeance was righteous. It’s very much a story of reclamation; these girls are tired, they’re angry, and they have secrets.
Aside from the more magical elements of witchcraft and mythological beings in the story, The Furies also shows just how hard it is to be a teenage girl very well. We see falling outs within the group, jealousy over friends and over boys, issues with body image and more. Violet also very much seems to be living in a state of poverty even after the payout from the car crash that devastated her family and landed her in a private grammar school, and it was so painful but relatable to see how embarrassed she was of this, and how desperately she tried to keep it from the other girls in an attempt to make them believe that she really was one of them.