I received this as an ARC from the publisher.
Firstly, LOOK AT THAT COVER OH MY IT IS A THING OF BEAUTY.
Secondly, Margo Lanagan is right, as usual. This is a riveting read.
Mistress Gideon, the narrator, is not a nice person. She’s not a good person, either; she works for and wants the best for those she loves, and for that reason is a fierce and loyal friend… but she’s not nice. And she’s not good. She is terrible to her enemies.
Mistress Gideon has enemies because she is a witch. Those of her neighbours in Edda’s Meadow who know she is a witch don’t say anything, because it’s useful having a witch nearby. But when visitors come through with a bit too much curiosity… well. Curiosity can be unhealthy.
Slatter has written a – well, not a lovely story. There’s a bit too much ruthlessness and hands cut off for ‘lovely.’ But it is a fierce story and one that demands to be finished; it’s complex and surprising. Don’t expect an entirely happy ending. It takes the old story of witches being found out and burnt at the stake and makes it a far more dynamic tale, exploring motivations and cause and consequence and collateral damage.
What I liked most, in the end, is that this is a story focussed on women. Women who love and who hate and who survive and who hang on through sheer bloody-mindedness. There are brutal witches and resentful teenagers and flighty wives and despairing lovers and bitter sisters and the guilty, the grim and the determined. Some of the women are a number of those things at the same time. These women are complex and challenging and very very real.
Of Sorrow and Such will be out in October. You know you want to read it.