8 September 2022
My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
Beware the women who are called witches, or those who claim the name for themselves…
Banshees – a howling night-witch and harbinger of death; She-devils – Lilith and her daughters; or Bitches – Hecate, whose chariot is drawn by dogs.
Alluring women, enchantresses, seekers of revenge, wise old women and badly-behaved girls. As Shahrukh Husain says, witches are ‘womanhood in all its complexity’.
Over fifty stories of crones and nixies, shape shifters and beauties are here, including the loving fox witch of Japan; Italy’s Witch-Bea-Witch; Scotland’s Goodwife of Laggan; Biddy Earl and the terrifying Kali and Baba Yaga who comes in many forms to haunt, entice, possess, transform and challenge.
From every corner of the globe, with tom-foolery, fun, strife and victory, these folklore and legends celebrate women who step out of line.
📖 My Review..
The fifty, or so, stories which form the basis of this anthology take the reader on a fascinating journey into the myths, legends and folklore which has so long been associated with witches and witchcraft. With a comprehensive preface and introduction the author gives a lengthy explanation of how women have, over many centuries, been persecuted for witchcraft often with no evidence of wrongdoing.
This is definitely a book to savour, not to read quickly, but rather to become immersed in the variety of stories on offer, so with that in mind, I dipped into and out of the book at whim, picking stories here and there which piqued my interest. The stories, from all around the globe, are immersive and quickly take you into a forgotten world of superstition, intrigue, magic and mayhem. Some were more compelling than others but all of them took me on an intricate journey in the best tradition of keeping the story telling art alive in the imagination.
Recently re-issued with a stunning new cover The Virago Book of Witchcraft is one of those wonderful anthologies which is happy to sit on your book shelf content to be taken down regularly and each time to find something new to read and enjoy, especially if you have an interest in global folklore and legend.
🍷Best read with…a comforting cup of warm chocolate
About the Author
Shahrukh Husain was brought up in Pakistan and has studied myth and folklore from around the world. She is the editor of The Virago Book of Witches, author of Women Who Wear the Breeches, Temptresses :The Virago Book of Evil Women, a novel, several children's books and a play for children. She also writes screenplays and created the TV drama Beecham House. A practicing psychotherapist, she is married with two children and lives in London.
Twitter @shahusain #TheViragoBookofWitches