The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

August 25th, 2017 Kimberly Review 48 Comments

25th Aug
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
The Witches of New York
by Ami McKay
Published by: HarperAudio
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 14 hours and 21 minutes
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Goodreads
Narration Rating: 4
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

The beloved, bestselling author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure is back with her most beguiling novel yet, luring us deep inside the lives of a trio of remarkable young women navigating the glitz and grotesqueries of Gilded-Age New York by any means possible, including witchcraft...

The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom ('Moth' from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it's finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and "gardien de sorts" (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan's high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions--and in guarding the secrets of their clients.

All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor's apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind?

Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches' tug-of-war over what's best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they're confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?

historical magical paranormal SUSPENSE

The gilded era – 1880 New York and the promise of three young witches drew me in and had me listening to THE WITCHES OF NEW YORK written by Ami McKay and narrated by Julia Whelan.  McKay offered up a dark and curious tale that I enjoyed despite its meandering pace.

“Respectable Lady Seeks Dependable Shop Girl. Those averse to magic need not apply.”

Caffeinated Aspects:

  • In a nut shell, this is the story of two witches helping a new witch find her place in the world during a highly religious, dangerous time in America. Eleanor St. Clair and Adelaide Thom own a Tea shop and welcome Beatrice Dunn into their home. She is a powerful young untrained witch.
  • The tea shop was delightful and catered to women’s needs. I loved that it was run by women for women. McKay used the store setting to highlight the climate for women during this period, and it felt natural and enlightening.
  • Paranormal elements from ghosts to talking birds will delight listeners. McKay breathes life into these elements allowing readers to believe in magic, ghosts and more. The witches are aided by a talking Raven and a mischievous pair of Dearlies.
  • Richly detailed with spells, lore, and witchcraft.
  • McKay is to be commended for the research that is evident as the reader finds themselves amongst the good people of 1880 NY. Her depictions of the streets, townsfolk, climate, and dangers were outstanding. Atmospheric and beautifully crafted McKay pulls you into the tale and its characters.
  • THE WITCHES OF NEW YORK weaves suspense, mystery, and magical realism into a believable tale. Steeped with religious overtones, we have a vigilante removing sinners and those practicing witchcraft or possessed of demons from this earth.
  • The characters themselves are all unique, quirky and memorable. I enjoyed the banter amongst them and felt as if I were with them in the dark shop.
  • Religion, oppression, prejudice and women’s rights are all woven into the tale and offer plenty of discussion for those looking for a book club read/listen.
  • Julia Whelan narrated and does a splendid job of capturing the female narratives, ominous tones, and ghostly entities.
  • The ending wrapped up nicely, but the door was left open with a little suspenseful thread. I would definitely revisit these characters and story.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

  • While I loved all the gritty details surrounding life in 1880 and the attention to witchcraft and its history, at times it slowed the pace down making listening difficult. I think had I read this, setting it down and picking it back up wouldn’t have made it feel cumbersome at times.
  • There were a few threads and characters I felt could have been eliminated from the tale. They did not further the plot and this would have made for better pacing.
  • The audio lacks some of the rich details the print copy delivers. Newspaper clippings, drawings, and spells.

While I struggled at times with the pace of THE WITCHES OF NEW YORK, it is one that stayed with me.  I find myself thinking about the characters, the setting, and magic. I enjoyed it more upon reflection making it a worthy read/listen.

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay was a richly detailed listen with strong characters. #audio Click To Tweet

About Ami McKay

Ami McKay

Ami McKay’s debut novel, The Birth House was a # 1 bestseller in Canada, winner of three CBA Libris Awards, nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and a book club favorite around the world. Her new novel. The Virgin Cure, is inspired by the life of her great- great grandmother, Dr. Sarah Fonda Mackintosh, a female physician in nineteenth century New York. Born and raised in Indiana, Ami now lives in Nova Scotia.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly

Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She’s a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat…Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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48 Responses to “The Witches of New York by Ami McKay”

  1. Rosie

    I’ve seen stories about witches coming from New England, but this is different. And I must say the first time I’ve ever heard of “grotesqueries”!! Sound cool!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Enjoy Anna, I love the non-narrative items too. Do you remember when albums and CDs came with pamphlets? I wish the audios did too when this happens or even a link to see them online.

  2. Karen Blue

    This looks like something I would like to read. It is nice of you to point out the print verses audio differences. I like the idea of the period and witches running a shop. Great review, as always.

    Karen Blue recently posted: Weekly Wrap Up #135

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