Monday, November 7, 2016

The Witches of New York by Ami Mckay

In the vein of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, comes a new novel from historical fiction maven Ami McKay that transports readers to the heart of Victorian New York, where three witches practice their craft—to the delight of some—but at their own peril.
Respectable Lady Seeks Dependable Shop Girl. Those averse to magic need not apply.
New York in the spring of 1880 is a place alive with wonder and curiosity. Determined to learn the truth about the world, its residents enthusiastically engage in both scientific experimentation and spiritualist pursuits. Séances are the entertainment of choice in exclusive social circles, and many enterprising women—some possessed of true intuitive powers, and some gifted with the art of performance—find work as mediums.

Enter Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair. At their humble teashop, Tea and Sympathy, they provide a place for whispered confessions, secret cures, and spiritual assignations for a select society of ladies, who speak the right words and ask the right questions. But the profile of Tea and Sympathy is about to change with the fortuitous arrival of Beatrice Dunn.

When seventeen-year-old Beatrice leaves the safety of her village to answer an ad that reads "Respectable Lady Seeks Dependable Shop Girl. Those averse to magic need not apply," she has little inclination of what the job will demand of her. Beatrice doesn't know it yet, but she is no ordinary small-town girl; she has great spiritual gifts—ones that will serve as her greatest asset and also place her in grave danger. Under the tutelage of Adelaide and Eleanor, Beatrice comes to harness many of her powers, but not even they can prepare her for the evils lurking in the darkest corners of the city or the courage it will take to face them.


The Witches of New York is a novel about three mystical women who practice the art of witchcraft in a small teashop in the city of New York during Victorian period in the late 1800's. Between the three they offer seances, tarot card readings, midwifery, love spells, and herbal cures, as was popular during the era. There are also ghosts and magic sprinkled throughout.  

There is a strong magical element to this story, which may push historical fiction purists beyond their comfort zone. But if you can allow your imagination to believe, then I promise you will be charmed! Along with the white/good magic, there is also some darkness and evil in the form of a jealous husband and a religious zealot bent on making their lives miserable. The middle portion of the book was a little slow, but at the 2/3rd mark, the story definitely picks up. The author truly did a marvelous job at recreating the New York of the times with its culture, norms, and sights and sounds.

Ami McKay is a lovely writer. Her heroines are always strong and assertive. The storyline is both dark and pleasant with a touch of mystery and paranormal. Definitely a charming, fun read!  

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