A Secret History of Witches
Written by Louisa Morgan
Review by Jarad Johnson
The multigenerational novel takes us through five generations of witches, the Orchiere from 1821 France to England in WWII. The novel shows the reader a brief history of each woman, usually around the time she inherits her power, which is passed from mother to daughter. But, I have to say, for this to be a book about witches, there is surprisingly little magic in the novel, and the witches in the novel don’t seem to use their power all that much. I was curious about this, and after some googling, I found an interview in which the author called the sort of things we would normally associate with witches like cauldrons, broomsticks, spell casting, etc, “easy magic” and that “Their craft represents knowledge, and power, and the thing some people fear most in women—independence.” I actually really like this approach to witchcraft. (Of course, I still would have liked more magic to appear in the novel.) The novel has a strong feminist core, that comes to the forefront when the mothers insist that their daughters understand how their magic gives them power.
What are we recommending this week? The New Guard Vol. VII, a collection of short pieces, poetry, and stories. There's something in this volume for everyone. And there's a special surprise! Julie has a piece in this volume, in the letters section. This year's theme is "Letters to Aliens." Julie's piece is entitled "Dear Essie" and you can find it in the very front of the book.
But don't stop there! This volume is extremely diverse, from the Featured Fiction, to the winners of the Machigonne fiction Contest, and the Knightville Poetry Contest.
Order your copy by clicking on the image of the book.
Featured writers as listed by the New Guard Website:
"TNG Volume VII includes work by our Machigonne Fiction Contest winner, Maureen Connolly and our Knightville Poetry Contest Winner Christine Kalafus; our Featured Authors, Grace Carpenter and Eamon Murphy; and all the contest finalists and semi-finalists. Judges for this volume were Chris Abani (fiction) and Mark Doty (poetry). The letters section theme is "Letters to Aliens." Letter writers: Claudia B. Manley, Julie Carpenter, Carter Goodwin, Liliana Nealon, Irina Martkovich, Lee Woodman, Roberta Senechal de la Roche, Bernard James, Lola Rainey, Patti Tod, Naomi Ulsted, Zoe Stoller and Jessica Lipnack. TNG Vol VII will come out in November, 2018. Cover art: Abraham Danso"
Click here to learn more about the New Guard and its editorial arm, The Writer's Hotel. Learn about their support system for new and established writers.
Here are some of the favorite reviews from the Sacred Chickens archive!
Home and Other Places I've Yet to See- Dan FLores III- Review by Julie
The Hate You Give- Written by Angie Thomas- Review by Mekayla
An Experiment in Love- Hilary Mantel- Review by Jarad
Here are some of the books Sacred Chickens wants you to read this week!
The Knife Thrower by Steven Millhauser
What? A collection of eerie dreams that take the form of short stories where a place as ordinary as a department store becomes a fantastical world of its own.
Why? Because Millhauser sees the world the same way as your old Uncle Morty does, thin spots here and there in the walls between reality and fantasy, haunted by the flesh-covered who imagine themselves mundane instead of the extraordinary accidents they actually are.
Written by Dan Flore III
Review by Julie Carpenter
There’s something light and clean about Flore’s poetry, even when he talks about stints in psych wards, homelessness, or other traumatic events. Reading one of his collections is like sitting at the beach watching the ocean wash over the garbage, cleaning the detritus wave after wave.
The Hate You Give
Written by Angie Thomas
Review by Mekayla Trout
In The Hate U Give, the protagonist, Starr, faces a series of heartbreaking challenges following the murder of her childhood friend Kahlil. Because Starr goes to a private school called Williamson, unlike most of the kids in her neighborhood, who go to the Garden Heights public school, she struggles with having censor herself around the different groups of people in her life. In the world of Williamson, Starr holds herself back, fearing casual racism from her peers. In the world of Garden Heights, Starr feels that she has to work harder to be accepted because she goes to a predominantly white school.
Your Uncle Morty has been listening in and once again some of the living are making him shake his bony old head in disbelief. Some of you think maybe there are no good choices to vote for. You think you won’t bother. What difference does it make?
Look at it like this. You live in a rickety, rackety, clickety clackety falling down apartment. You and the other residents are kind of ticked that you’ve had a series of bad landlords but you’ve never pulled yourself together to do anything about it.
An Experiment in Love
Written by Hillary Mantel
Review by Jarad Johnson
The plot of this novel is multilayered, multidimensional, and fluid. This makes it hard to know where to start sometimes, so I’ll try to begin by give a general overview of the book. The main character is named Carmel, and the novel follows her as she moves from her parent’s house to a boarding school. The reader follows her as she struggles with anorexia and her studies. The plot moves from event to event, memory to memory, and in that sense is very realistic, because when you recount an even it doesn’t come to you in a linear fashion. The novel is in a sense like looking into the mind of someone else- literally. It deals with many issues, including eating disorders, depression, body dysmorphia and abortion. Really, I can’t say that this novel is about any particular thing; it’s just Carmel’s life. There is no message, no point, it just tells her story, and leaves interpretations up to the reader. Not to say that there isn’t meaning, but there’s no agenda.
I’m going to discuss a topic that at first glance might seem to be a poor fit for a blog where we discuss stories. But bear with me, I think it has more resonance with our narrative obsession than might be readily apparent.