I love books about magic. On my reading challenge for this year, a book with magic was the first criteria I was able to fulfill via The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.
I used to read Ruth Chew as a kid, and I have even revisited it as an adult, because she always had the most fun stories with the most intriguing manifestations of magic: shrinking, flying, and turning into something else. All of the best uses of magic, from my child’s perspective. Clearly others agree with me because her books, written in the early 1980’s (possibly in the seventies as well) have made it into digital formats on Amazon.
Also, I love books about haunting and mysterious places, and Savannah, Georgia fits the bill here. I love a good setting.
The Witching Savannah series by J.D. Horn captures both these magical and mysterious elements.
The series demonstrated two major points for me: one about the structure of writing a trilogy and the other about the nature of magic.
This series is all about assumptions and status quo and stories that are maintained for years in the Taylor family which are all systematically destroyed through all three books. Even at the end of The Void there are more twists and turns packed in. I never knew, right up to the bitter end, what was the real story for these characters.
I realized that trilogies tend to have the first book to set up the back story and the basic assumptions from which the protagonist operates, and slowly challenge this back story until the second book, where the back story and all accompanying assumptions are shredded and then the third where the real truth becomes incrementally pieced back together. If you want a book full of twists and plot turns that keep you guessing, this series is absolutely for you.
The more important piece was the treatment of magic. No one knows for certain in this trilogy if magic is really a good thing or a bad thing. That level of power of any kind will never be black or white. When thinking about writing about magic and the rules that other authors have helpfully lined up about writing about magic, there is always a darker side that has to be accounted for. In the beginning the magic of the Taylor family is completely appealing, but then at the end, the reader is left to wonder if the family would really have been better off without being a magical family in the first place. The magic gives the family members roles and responsibilities that are too great for the hands of just a few, and it nearly destroys them.
I rarely wish to return to childhood, but magic was a lot simpler to read about and think about back then!
As a final note, this book is really fun listened to over audio with a young woman’s southern accent narrating. I recommend this if you are the audiobook type.
I recommend this book if you like the supernatural, family intrigue, and a plot that never quits.