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Wicked, Wonderful Witchery: Review of Hex Life

Book: Hex Life

Editors: Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering

Year Published: 2019

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Hex Life was an anthology of wicked and wonderful witchcraft. It played around with the stereotypes surrounding witches and each story was unique and magical. I liked some stories more than others but I think that there is something for everyone as it had a broad scope of styles and takes on the theme of witches..

(1) An Invitation to a Burning by Kat Howard, 4 stars: One of the shortest stories in the anthology that took the idea of witch burning and turned it into something powerful, uniting and about moving on from the past.

(2) Widows’ Walk by Angela Slatter, 4 stars: Completely inverts the usual tropes surrounding widows and had themes of domestic abuse. It was about a group of widows who try to help young girls with family problems.

(3) Black Magic Momma: An Otherworld Story by Kelley Armstrong, 4 stars: This one was about a witch who dealt in black market trading of magical objects while trying to keep her daughter safe. I liked the way that women supported each other in this story. It was a part of the Women of the Otherworld series, which I am not familiar with.

(4) The Night Nurse by Sarah Langan, 1 star: Dark, depressing, weird. I didn’t like it at all. It felt all over the place and I think the ending was supposed to be shocking but by then I just wanted it to be over.

(5) The Memories of Trees by Mary SanGiovanni, 3 stars: This was a dystopian with themes of nature retaliating against technology.

(6) Home: A Morganville Vampires Story by Rachel Caine, 4 stars: I found this story quite funny. It had some eccentric characters and vampires not knowing what to do with a baby. There a touch of madness and magic mixed in with the mundane and it was about the long-lasting effects of heartbreak and grief. It was a part of The Morganville Vampires series which I am also not familiar with.

(7) The Deer Wife by Jennifer McMahon, 3.5 stars: This was a sort of witchy romance story and it was quite sweet.

(8) The Dancer by Kristin Dearborn, 3.5 stars: It had people with superpowers, an extremely twisted and creepy family and a very obscure yet haunting ending.

(9) Bless Your Heart by Hillary Monahan, 4.5 stars: This was about a mother whose son was getting bullied because he was gay and who decided to put an end to it. It was very gruesome but I couldn’t help cheering on her revenge. Also the mother’s narration was quite humorous with a lot of ranting.

(10) The Debt by Ania Ahlborn, 5 stars: It had Baba Yaga in it so obviously it was amazing. The ending was unexpected in its cruelty and betrayal and I felt for the protagonist, a young girl called Karolin.

(11) Toil & Trouble: A Dark-hunter Hellchaser Story by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Madaug Kenyon, 2 stars: This one also felt quite random and all over the place, I didn’t feel like it had a strong sense of story. It started off catching my interest and went downhill from there.

(12)  Last Stop On Route Nine by Tananarive Due, 4.5 stars: This one was scary, like a horror movie. It also had themes of racism, a ghost and people getting lost.

(13) Where Relics Go To Dream and Die by Rachel Autumn Deering, 2 stars: I don’t know what this story was trying to achieve but I just found it disturbing and weird. I mean it was well written but that isn’t enough.

(14) This Skin by Amber Benson, 4.5 stars: This one was also disturbing but in more of a good way. It was a very creepy story about a young girl who murders and gets away with it.

(15) Haint Me Too by Chesya Burke, 3.5 stars: It was about a girl called Shea whose family was sharecropping and who resorts to more magical means to help her family. It was a bit confusing but also interesting.

(16) The Nekrolog by Helen Marshall, 3 stars: It was too long and rambling, it definitely should have been way shorter. Parts were intriguing but I was mainly bored.

(17)  Gold Among The Black by Alma Katsu, 3 stars: It was a bit like a fairy tale but it was also quite predictable and average.

(18) How To Become A Witch-Queen by Theodora Goss, 5 stars: My favourite story of the anthology. It was a retelling of Snow White about what happened to her years after the ending of the fairy tale. It had clever use of the second person and a gripping plot with themes of female empowerment. I want to read other works by this author now!

Overall, Hex Life had a range of stories for a range of tastes and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes stories about magic and witches.

Thank you to Titan Books for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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