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It is so rare to read a fully original work of fiction that is fun and multi-layered. While others are comparing Schickel's work to Alice Hoffman and Updike's Witches of Eastwick, I feel like this book fits in with Ann Tyler's Accidental Tourist and Rick Moody's Ice Storm. The author captures the odd world that has become Consumerica -- in this case the fictional Monrovia, Mass. This thoroughly enjoyable fast paced novel allows for that occasional moment when you are so deep into the characters and the scene that you have to take a moment to stop in your reading -- then you realize, like under a witches spell, you just stumbled on a deeper metaphor and meaning. You quickly fall for Allison Darling, as she feels ensnared in the trappings of creating the perfect hors d'ouvres and trying to connect with her pagan spirit heritage. The narrative steams forward and you root for Allison to use that witchcraft for all its worth to upend the suburban inanity. It would be nice to see this ambitious first novel find its way into many hands.
This is the conundrum that Allison faces. Astrid who has a beauty and home products line named Glamour has asked Allison to join her team. However, before she accepts, Allison gets word that her mother who has been in a psychiatric hospital since Allison was seven, is dying and wishes to see her. Allison is very conflicted because her mother who is a witch had thwarted all of Allison's previous attempts to see her. It turns out that Allison has two aunts and two adoptive uncles. Freya aka Astrid is a dark witch and sees Allison as a threat and seeks to either control or kill her and doesn't particularly care as long as she gets Allison to give her what she wants.
In a strange sort of way this book reminded me of the Stepford Wives. I enjoyed the humor in the book and thought that the characters were well defined for the most part. Using Mother Goose rhymes as spells was genius.
I was intrigued by this book when I read about it so I bought it. When it arrived, I sat down and read it until the end. That tells you something. It was a very good book in many ways. I am giving it four stars instead of five because in parts of the book, I got a little confused. I felt like it needed a little more explanation. I really did like the children in the book and could well relate to the mother at the birthday party. I was also amused when the bratty little boy bite into an onion instead of an apple. Now that was a great episode. I really did like that. I will look for Katie Schnickel again because I think she has a promising career as a writer. If you are in the mood for witch craft and just plain mean women, this would be a good book for you to read. I did enjoy it.
I loved this book! It was fun, interesting, and unexpected. Allesone comes from a long line of witches, but after growing up in foster homes, she has long since forgotten the lessons she learned until an enchantment that had kept her and her family safe for 31 years wears off, and not only releases her magic that has laid dormant, but also stops protecting her family from the Dark Witch. I loved the story, the characters and the way that they were far from perfect, and of course I loved the magic. Who doesn't love magic? It is a fun and exciting read, and definitely one of my favorites. I can't wait until someone else I know reads it too, so I can have someone to discuss it with. I will definitely read the sequel, and it is perfectly set up for a sequel, so the only remaining question is...how long will I have to wait?
For those of us with a weakness for books about families of witches, especially sisters who are witches, this book hits a sweet spot. It straddles the line between creative and almost predictable, all the while keeping the story moving along at a fast pace. The author has fun with the story, and so does the reader. If some of the scenes are a bit over the top, they only add to the overall enjoyment of the novel. And this is a good, fun book; hard to stop once begun and disappointing when it ends. I began the book as an excerpt provided through NetGalley and then finished it as a book I purchased. Yes, I was hooked! You will be, too.
The idea of magic practiced in daily suburban life is a fun and interesting premise, but the actual execution misses the mark. Perhaps I was expecting Alice Hoffman's ethereal prose and lyrical dialogue. This book has whimsical moments, but the overall tone isn't sustained. I expected more bravery from Allison and was disappointed by the cartoon-like nature of some of the other characters. The message of using magic and personal power for positive purposes is a good one. This is a light, beach read, but it had the potential to be so much more.
I don't give anything 5 stars unless it's a masterpiece with some kind of lesson behind it that could change my life. I love this book in so many ways. I love the magical realism and the setting, basically Salem, Massachusetts. It had moments of humor that actually made me laugh. Those things made for reading pleasure. I also love the lesson, that being perfect doesn't work, can't work. I have read it at a time when that lesson was exactly what I needed to be reminded of. I will end up rereading this book, a rare occurrence in my world when there are so many fascinating new things to read. I love this book.
Housewitch is the best contemporary fiction book I've read in a long time! Katie Schickel is brilliant in creating the space where magic occurs, right from the opening scene on the marsh - the land that almost is, and almost isn't. Her characters are believable and memorable; some are outright hysterical. Schickel makes insightful social commentary throughout, particularly in regards to Glamour. She writes, "Do you know what glamour is, Freya? Glamour is an enchantment. It's a way of making people see things that aren't so... Not exactly a lie... More like a deception. It's something that isn't all the way true, and isn't all the way untrue. Just as the times in between are neither past nor future. The not times, we call them. The in-between time. Dusk, dawn, midnight, new moon, full moon. These are the not times when the doors to the other worlds are open, and when the magic is most potent..." Magic and glamour are Schickel's media for exploring the world of 2015 with excruciatingly funny and spot-on social commentary.
Schickel seamlessly weaves together worlds from two eras, addressing plot twists and values that bring us into the living rooms and kitchens of our modern day, in a too-perfect town we all can relate to. But is it perfect? What is beneath the veneer and what magic does it hold, both dark and light? Schickel's main character Allison navigates this world with lattes, humor, hope, and deftness that she gains throughout the story as she comes to terms with her roots and her true nature. She is aided by the most endearing cast of characters in her family and the most believable cast of characters in her town. Katie Schickel nails it, in a style that is all her own, and one that will send her along the path of great American writers.