Now She is Witch: ‘Myth-making at its best‘ Val McDermid

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Now She is Witch: ‘Myth-making at its best‘ Val McDermid

Now She is Witch: ‘Myth-making at its best‘ Val McDermid

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Now She is Witch is a beautiful, atmospheric, resonant tale that follows Lux and Else as they fight to be heard and to tell their own stories. I couldn’t help but feel the heavy burden on my chest when I realised; nothing much had changed since then.

Among many things, probably one of my favourite aspects of the story was the main character; Lux’s evolution throughout the story. Near the beginning of Kirsty Logan’s fine new novel, a travelling theatre company stages a nocturnal performance on a frozen lake. The emphasis here is on storytelling, not just in Logan’s approach to her material but through an intricate exploration of roles on offer to women like Lux accused of witchcraft and devoid of social or economic clout - the parts she’s forced to play, and who gets to tell her story. This novel clearly falls in that neo-subgenre of “feminist-witch-fiction” has become so oversaturated in the past few years that I thought I was done with it. A very different sort of man is “the size of a bull, and his smell was so strong it felt like fingers forced into her nostrils”.

The few cases in which midwives were accused of witchcraft, their jobs as midwives were often coincidental. What I enjoyed the most is how each chapter had a different title (the first part at least) and the title defined Lux (Maiden, Poisoner, Wolf etc) and showed the different roles and labels women can be categorised into. But what I really love here is Kirsty’s vivid and folkloric imagination - I’ll never get tired of it! Any who assume agency are swiftly denounced and brutally dealt with: those labelled witches are tied to poles in the sea and left to slowly drown; others guilty of lesser offences (talking too much, too loudly or indeed at all) are paraded around in scold’s bridles, torture devices deployed to humiliate. She is supremely talented and has a fantastic imagination, and I love that she weaves folklore and other elements into her stories.

This is the skill in her storytelling, that I have another genre to add to the two listed at the start: mystery. Whether Logan is describing a dismembered bear whose lopped-off parts are handed out as favours at a banquet, or a gory flagellant’s parade, the images we are offered snap and sizzle with portent and possibility. Her work has been optioned for TV, adapted for stage, recorded for radio and podcasts, exhibited in galleries and distributed from a vintage Wurlitzer cigarette machine. It’s a kind of revenge plot, but being female in a male dominated time highlights the power and powerlessness of women at this time. The book also has enough action to keep you on your toes, while the other chapters; where the author takes the reader to reminisce about her characters’ past are long enough to slow your speeding heart rate a little.We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. The importance of choice and desire are at the centre of this story, things that these women were either denied or given very little of. This is outstanding: a world that runs parallel to our own, full of the graceless hypocrisies of men and the petty (and not-so-petty) cruelties of disempowered women. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. I HATE the myth of the female herbalist/midwife/abortionist who only tried to help the poor villagers and then gets murdered because men hate women with agency.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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