As my friends will take great pleasure in telling you, I am not a fan of horror in any shape or form, but as Halloween approaches, I thought it only fair that I bring you news of a suitably themed (but not too scary) book. As luck would have it, I recently discovered the magical Witch Ways series by Helen Slavin, so today I am here to tell you about not one, but two delightfully magical books.
CROOKED DAYLIGHT (THE WITCH WAYS #1)
The Way sisters, Anna, Charlie and Emz, were raised in two worlds. Their mother’s realm of reason, measurement and logic, and the world inhabited by their spectacularly unconventional grandmother, Hettie.
While their mother worked, the sisters ran wild at Hettie’s Cob Cottage, discovering forbidden Pike Lake, unknowable Havoc Wood, and what their grandmother referred to only as ‘The Strengths’.
But time passed, the sisters grew up, work and relationships and their mother’s world won them over, and The Strengths lay forgotten…
That is until Hettie passes away suddenly, leaving behind Cob Cottage and a whole lot of questions.
Anna is busy trying very hard not to cry as she caters yet another wedding, Charlie is spending more time at the job she loves than with the boyfriend she’s not quite sure about and Emz is dreaming up new ways to avoid school and the drama that comes with it, but can they deal with strange guests, unexpected danger and some long-forgotten memories?
As first books in a series go, this one certainly grabs your attention from the very first page, as the Way sisters make a break from their much loved grandmother’s funeral, with the coffin!
The bond between the three sisters is instantly apparent, and despite their obvious differences, their closeness remains clear throughout the book. With their wildly different personalities, I think every reader will find at least one Way that they can relate to.
Slavin creates a wonderful supporting cast in the form of the townspeople, a warm community reminiscent of old village life, making Woodcastle feel like the kind of place that I would like to live – I particularly enjoyed meeting the ladies of the WI, and the curious Craft Club.
As soon as I finished this book, I knew that I would be moving swiftly on to the second book in the series to find out what happens next to the Witch Ways.
SLOW POISON (THE WITCH WAYS #2)
“You’re the Ways. The Gamekeepers. You must know.”
But the problem is they don’t. After being thrust into a life of magic, Anna, Charlie, and Emz have lost their way. They don’t know where they’re supposed to be, what they’re supposed to be doing, or who they’re supposed to trust. Right now, they’re just trying to get by.
Struggling to accept their powers, the sisters are doing all they can to lead a normal life, but with the anniversary of Halloween looming everyone is on edge.
When a stranger arrives on their doorstep, they know a different magic is in the air. The Ways realise they must embrace their Strengths if they have any hope of doing the job Hettie left behind.
With dark magic crackling through the town and leaking into the lives of people they love, the Ways must find themselves before they lose everything.
Slow Poison picks up shortly after the conclusion of Crooked Daylight, with the sisters still trying to get to grips with their “Strengths,” when the second of their Gamekeeper guests arrives on the doorstep of Cob Cottage. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each of the sisters a little better in this book, and discovering more about each of their individual gifts.
This book has a darker feel than Crooked Daylight with the arrival of the mysterious Ailith and her severed head, and the sinister Mrs Fyfe to the town of Woodcastle. That said, even as unease and tension drips through the townsfolk, it maintains a distinctly British feel that reminded me of Midsomer Murders (this is a good thing, I LOVE Midsomer!), conjuring up images of picturesque towns with their unique local customs.
Despite the toxic, dark magic taking a hold over the town, there is a wonderful cosiness to Slavin’s writing that draws you in and refuses to let go until you have read the entire book! I think this is largely due to the wonderful Cob Cottage, which has a character all of its own and which, once you are safely tucked away inside will protect you from the evils outside.
I don’t know if Helen Slavin has plans to write more books featuring the Witch Ways, but I for one really hope that she does.
You can find out more about Helen and her books on her website, https://www.helenslavin.com/