The Witches of New York, by Ami McKay

Updated: Oct 20, 2018

For the time has come, the day has arrived, as the Spinner of Tales once said, when witches the wide world over are no longer born, but made. - Miss Beatrice Dunn, Advice for New Witches

The Witches of New York is another a supernatural historical fiction set in New York, although thirty years before The Diviners and the Jazz Age.

The time in the city was less glamorous. This is when New York City pulled itself up from earth to glittering spires. The whole city is built as a testament to dreams, and this book gets into the labour and the hope that allowed the dream to be created.

I had actually put this book on hold as soon as I finished McKay’s The Virgin Cure, and while there was a gap between when I read one book and the next, it still took me an embarassingly long time to realized it was a continuation of Moth’s story. Moth, from The Virgin Cure, is all grown up and whole and also so shattered by life’s turns, and is now calling herself Adelaide Thom. She is such a formidable character.

She is one of a trio of woman in this beautiful tale of witches, womanhood and everyday magic. Adelaide, along with her partner Eleanor St. Clair, meet young Beatrice Dunn and the planets align. The tea shop they own together is mysterious and enchanting, where fortunes are told, stories are listened to, and philosophy is discussed, all over a cup of healing tea. How I wish there was a Tea & Sympathy to visit in the hear and now! If there is any kind of place like this in Geneva, please let me know!

At the heart of it, The Witches of New York is a feminist tale. Underneath all the plot twists is a dark and twisted patriarchy that wishes for power and control over women and that which they do not understand. Not that there aren’t male characters who are kind and sympathetic – and not all of them are alive. McKay does an excellent job of creating characters who are flawed and still understandable, so very real even in the midst of a ghost story.

I read this book and immediately felt like Ami McKay and I might be friends – she has put such heart into these pages. This is a great spooky read for Halloween but there is depth and soul here that I truly loved.