Blogtober // Hex Life Review

These are tales of witches, wickedness, evil and cunning. Stories of disruption and subversion by today’s women you should fear. Including Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine and Sherrilyn Kenyon writing in their own bestselling universes.

These witches might be monstrous, or they might be heroes, depending on their own definitions. Even the kind hostess with the candy cottage thought of herself as the hero of her own story. After all, a woman’s gotta eat…

I was kindly sent this book from Titan in exchange for an honest review.

Despite the fact that short story collections have a lot of wild and varying context to deal with, I still struggle to review them. Purely because there are both stories I loved and stories my eyes skimmed over. Despite witchcraft being the underlying premise of these tales, the stories manage to deal with a lot of different topics – such as bullying, racism, sexism etc. The stories can be quite violent and shocking but also beautiful and hopeful and have underlying messages beneath the magic.

“It could have been a shock, but it was instead a comfort: here was another, like her, quiet and unseen and powerful all the same.”

As I went along, I bookmarked some of my favourite stories from the collection starting with Widows’ Walk by Angela Slatter which is the tale of a house of older witches who take it upon themselves to rescue and protect a young girl that has been sneaking onto their property. I love this collection of eclectic older women who protect and love each other and come out with some hilarious one-liners. Another favourite of mine was The Deer Wife by Jennifer McMahon – the story of a mother who falls in love with a witch who lives deep in the woods and is capable of taking on multiple forms. It deals with the boundaries that can come with motherhood – especially the mother of a protective son. Bless Your Heart by Hillary Monahan deals with a witch who comes in the form of a middle-aged mother and member of the local PTO club and How To Become a Witch-Queen by Theodora Goss is a Snow White retelling where Snow White is grown up and sick of being known as the princess who was rescued. And last but not least, Last Stop on Route Nine by Tananarive Due and Haint Me Too by Chesya Burke both deal with racism in the magical world. These stories are violent and use racist slurs so please be aware of that.

“And you are, quite simply, done. Done with listening to men who tell you what to do, whether the father who ignored you, or the husband who turned you into a fairy tale, or now a son. You are done with being rescued, done with obedience and gratitude.” 

Overall, I loved this book and how the authors used witchcraft as the basis to explore many other important themes. My favourite stories from the collection will definitely be something for me to reread in the future and this book is just perfect for this time of year. It makes you realise that although the days of being burnt at the stake simply for being a woman are over but we can still be prosecuted to this day. It shows the bond between women in its various forms – as lovers, mothers, daughters, friends, sisters. The power lies within us and it’s not always magical.

Lots of Love,

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