Books

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery (Christopher Golden & Rachel Autumn Deering) – Review

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery is the latest anthology from Titan Books, this time offering a host of tales of witchcraft and magic. The authors on offer here are an amazing bunch and some big names, including authors of popular series such as The Morganville Vampires, and the Dark-Hunter Hellchaser saga. One of the things that really makes the book stand out however, is how many of the authors are women. The fact that editors Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering have gone out of their way to fill the book with diverse voices makes for such a treat.

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery gives readers a broad range of stories – as broad as the genre of witchcraft and magic can allow. Some stories have witches who are heroes, acting to protect the innocent. In some, they are foes who cause death and destruction in their wake. Some are set in worlds much like ours, where magic is unknown and mysterious, whilst others are in times and places where magic is something that everyone believes in. The book has so many different stories on offer that any reader will struggle to come out disappointed. There’s something for everyone in this collection, and if you’re like me, you’ll love it all.

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‘Widows’ Walk’ by Angela Slatter tells a tale of a group of elderly widows who take pity on a young girl who’s being neglected by her family. When it turns out that the widows are actually witches, their interest in the girl takes a more magical turn. ‘The Night Nurse’ by Sarah Langan switches things up by having a less than benevolent witch at its centre, instead telling a story of a strange old women who acts as a night nurse for a new mother. Over the course of the story the ‘kind’ older woman begins to act more and more suspicious until she becomes downright frightening.

Mary SanGiovanni’s ‘The Memories of the Trees’ is set in a future where humanity has regressed following an apocalyptic war in the twenty-first century. In a society that has been destroyed by technology, magic has made a resurgence, and must come to the aid of a woman and girl condemned to death. ‘How To Become A Witch Queen’ by Theodora Goss takes place in a fantasy world, and follows the recently widowed queen Elfrida. Desperate to secure a safe future for her daughter, Elfrida recruits friends and allies from her past, including seven dwarves, to build her own kingdom with her mothers old magical equipment. The story twists the tale of Snow White wonderfully, and gives us a new version of the character, the woman who inspired the fairy-tale.

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Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery doesn’t just include stories set in new worlds, however, but also tales from other book series too. These stories give some insight into these series; in some cases introducing main characters, in others just giving a taste of the worlds that the stories inhabit. Kelley Armstrong offers a tale about Eve Levine, a witch on the run, that connects into her Otherworld series in ‘Black Magic Momma’. We get to see a story set in Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series in ‘Home’. This story is set between the events of one of her books, and features a few of the main cast coming together to deal with a witch threatening their town. These stories will add to the experience for fans of those particular series, giving them more adventures to enjoy with those characters. For those who aren’t familiar with these universes, they act as a great taster that can be a nice gateway into those stories.

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery is one of the better anthology books that I’ve read. The stories here have a wide range of styles, and they present very different ideas of witchcraft and magic, yet they all have the same high quality. Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering have done an amazing job as editors, and have gone above and beyond to craft a volume that really does present some of the best short stories available. An absolute must read for fans of short stories, horror, and witchcraft, and presented in an absolutely gorgeous hardcover edition too.

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery is out now from Titan Books.

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