Recent Reads: What I Read in October 2021

In September, I was lucky and managed to find two books that I gave a five-cup review to. However, In October 2021 and I wasn’t as lucky. It might have been partly because I read those two amazing books the month before. Or maybe I am being a little harsher this month. But these are the reviews for the books I read in October 2021.

The Once and Future Witches

Alix E. Harrow

When Agnes, Bella, and Juniper Eastwood, there was no such thing as witches. Only the little charms and nursery rhymes taught to them by their grandmother. After years of separation, the three Eastwood sisters reunited in New Salem in 1893. At a time during the start of the fight for women’s suffrage. The three sisters hope to turn the civil rights movement into a witch’s movement. Searching for old magic and forming new alliances. All whilst they are hunted by forces who do not want women to vote and witches to live.

The Once and Future Witches

Rating: ☕☕☕/5

At 517 pages, this is one of the longest books I have read this year, and at times it felt like it. The Once and Future Witches is a slow read with lots of characters. In fact, it like new characters were constantly added to the story, and at times it became hard to keep track of them all. That aside, I loved the plot of this book and especially the bond between the three sisters. How they used their witching powers to help women gain more rights. The idea of using magic to fight for the right to vote and help create better working conditions. I also loved how nursery rhymes and fairy tales served as old spells. And how they intertwine within the story, as old witch spells hidden in plain sight.

The Ladies of the Secret Circus

Constance Sayers

When Lara Barnes’ fiancé disappears on their wedding day, she is desperate for answers. During her search for clues, she must investigate her own family history. Aided by her great-grandmother, Cecile’s journals, and a painting of Cecile. Lara must leave the quiet Virginia town where she grew up and travel to Paris. There she has to examine her family connection to the circus.

Via Cecile’s journals, Lara learns about the Secret Circus. A world of magnificent beasts, time travelling carousels. And about the love story between a young painter and the trapeze artist. As Lara learns more about her family history, she wonders what it has to do with her fiancé’s disappearance?

The Ladies of the Secret Circus

Rating: ☕☕☕☕/5

It’s hard not to compare this book to The Night Circus. Both books feature a tragic love story and a magic circus. But, The Ladies of the Secret Circus is also a mystery book. What happened to Lara’s fiancé? How is his disappearance connected to a similar disappearance thirty years earlier? Why are these the only major crimes in Lara’s sleepy hometown?

The joy in this book is the tales about the ladies of the circus. I loved the chapters featuring Cecile’s journal. Sayers’ description of both the circus and 1920’s Paris nights are amazing. I loved reading about both dramas within the circus. But also when the ladies venture out into the night to cafes to mix with artists and writers.

One thing I did find it was difficult to keep track of all the characters. Mainly due to the two different interwoven storylines, but don’t let this put you off. The Ladies of the Secret Circus is a wonderful book for lovers of mysteries, fantasy or anyone looking for the next The Night Circus.

The Spirit Engineer

A.J. West

The Spirit Engineer is an adaptation of the true story of William Jackson Crawford and the Goligher Circle. In 1914, two years after the sinking of the Titanic and before the start of the First World War. Belfast’s high society become obsessed with seances to handle their collective grief. At the centre of these seances were the Goligher family.

When Crawford’s wife starts attending these seances, he follows her one night and soon beings to investigate the meeting. As a professor of science, he uses his analytical brain to study Kathleen Goligher and dubs himself the Spirit Engineer.

The Spirit Engineer

Rating: ☕☕/5

This book has five parts. The first seems like a very boring account of the Crawford household, with children arguing and parents worrying over financial issues. But, in the later parts, the story picks up as Crawford discovers the seances. Soon he witnesses an appearance of his recently dead son. As well as hearing his dead mother’s voice at one of the gatherings.

The final parts focus on when Crawford (and Kathleen Goligher) gain fame. This is after he publishes his book, and they travel to London. There he meets Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. Soon after, Crawford starts to re-examine the evidence from the seances. He questions all his findings and devels deeper into the Goligher Family and Kathleen’s claims.

Whilst this isn’t the sort of book I tend to read. I enjoyed West’s writing style, and I would recommend it to you if you liked The Devil in The White City.

What books did you read in October 2021?
Are you like me looking for the new The Night Circus?
Do you have any book recommendations for me?
Let me know!

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I received some of the books featured in the post from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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