Books, Reviews

Witchcraft & vengeance – my review of ‘Of Sorrow And Such’, by ANGELA SLATTER


This is the tale of Patience Gideon, a witch living her life in precarious, yet rather comfortable security in the small town of Edda’s Meadow where no one really knows the true nature of her powers. When Patience’s world starts to crumble because of events outside her control, the story becomes a harrowing and gripping drama, and she has to use all her cunning and craft to try to save herself, her daughter, and something of the life she’s built for them.

‘Of Sorrow And Such’ is a gripping and beautifully told tale of magic, betrayal, faith, and loyalty, set in Angela Slatter’s alternate universe, a place of witches and shape-shifters, potions and spells. This is a world where the women who wield magic know how to heal and help, as well as hurt and kill. It’s also a world where women like Patience have to keep their magic hidden, unless they want to be hunted down and burned alive by the authorities.

Is Patience a good witch or a bad witch? Well, that depends. In Slatter’s universe, there are no such clear-cut categories. Whether Patience is good or bad could depend on whether you need healing, or something else, and also on what is at stake. Life and the world has made her hard, but she is not needlessly cruel. Still, she knows her own darkness.

I peer out in the trees, where forest shadows and shapes dance, move. – – – They are creatures not confined to the woods, though they seem to like it best here. It’s well time to return home, before the sun sets entirely. What if I should recognise some of the shades drifting back and forth between the trunks?

I’m not fearful, though I am cautious.

How many of those shades I might be responsible for is something I cannot calculate.

Slatter’s world is an amazing place to explore, familiar yet strange, permeated by magic, yet anchored by characters who feel utterly real. Patience herself is complex and captivating, the kind of character you’d like to meet again in another story. All the characters, but especially the women, are memorable in this tale, whether they are foolish or cruel, brave or self-serving cowards. They feel like real people, people you might meet anywhere, except that some of them are endowed with powers. Even the evil ones are real enough: creatures we’d recognize in our own world.

Angela Slatter’s prose is a thing of beauty. Earthy and sensual, original and vibrant in its tone and melody: it’s a sheer joy to read. She captures everything easily, snaring a place and a mood and a character just right with a twist of a sentence and the turn of a word.

This is a fantasy tale that feels real enough to make a lasting impression and make you hungry for more of Angela Slatter’s witches and shifters.

3 thoughts on “Witchcraft & vengeance – my review of ‘Of Sorrow And Such’, by ANGELA SLATTER”

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