In addition the occasional book news on Fridays, Savvy Verse & Wit would like to introduce Short Story Friday, on which I will highlight a recent short story I’ve read and enjoyed either on Kindle or in book form. Today’s is an e-short story by Alma Katsu.
The Witch Sisters by Alma Katsu is an e-short story spin-off from The Taker series that continues the Gothic feel of her previous novels. Adair finds himself in England on a nervous steed as he gallops through fens wood, a forest of many superstitions and secrets. He seems to be still be on his journey to acquire magical knowledge, but he’s also already begun collect his consorts. In the darkest of evenings, Adair meets Penthy, a fair-haired young woman, who lures him back to her cottage that she shares with her more wily sister, Bronwyn.
Adair is intrigued by these women living alone together in the woods, but he also is aware of his own power and gives into his own vanity, remaining with them for several days as they dote on him. Readers will find this story a departure from the character depicted in Katsu’s first book, The Taker, but Adair is similar to the man who evolves into in The Reckoning.
“The forest here was not like forests elsewhere. The salty soil had turned it into a nightmarish landscape. It made trees into stunted hunchbacks, gnarled and twisting in on themselves.” (page 1)
Penthy is the more pliable sister, but Katsu’s description of her resembles Lanore in terms of her attractiveness and damaged nature. It is easy for readers of the series to see why Adair would be attracted to her, but she is less like Lanore in that she allows her sister to lead the way. These sisters are resourceful medicine women, and they pride themselves on the good they do for the village women. It is not until they look beyond the sexual object in their cottage do they realize the magic they have at the tip of their fingers.
Readers looking for more of The Taker and Katsu’s characters, The Witch Sisters is a great way to reduce the angst of waiting for the third and final book in the series, but the story could have been longer and included more magic. Readers may want more spells, illusion, and displacement either on the part of Adair under the control of the sisters or from Adair as he decides how best to punish these women — in true Adair fashion.
Alma Katsu lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu. Her debut, The Taker, a Gothic novel of suspense, has been compared to the early work of Anne Rice and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. The novel was named a Top Ten Debut Novel of 2011 by the American Library Association and has developed an international following. The Reckoning, the second book in the trilogy, was published in June 2012. The Taker Trilogy is published byGallery Books/Simon Schuster.