Wednesday 17 February 2021

The Coven by Lizzie Fry @LizzieFryAuthor #TheCoven @BooksSphere @_FrancescaBanks #BookReview


Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them - creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal...

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It's a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she - and the women around her - won't give in easily. Not while all of women's power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.

The Coven by Lizzie Fry is published on 25 February 2021 by Sphere. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I have to say, right from the start of this review, that this book took me way out of my comfort zone! I was hooked by the premise and the whole blurb. A book that pays homage to the power of women has to be just for me. I was expecting a thriller, instead I got an intriguing mix of magical realism and witches with an intelligent and prescient, prophetic look at social issues.

This is clever novel. It is written with such care; care for the reader and the characters created within the pages.  Some will label this as a dystopian novel, and of course, it is set in an imagined society with many injustices, however it's quite close to the truth in many ways. Take out the witchcraft and the unearthly powers of the women in the novel, and you will find so many similarities to today. The continued oppression of females, the ever increasing criticism of any female who may have power in what is still, very much, a man's world. 

In The Coven there are females who practice 'spellbinding', or witches. There are three types of witch and all of them have been outlawed, silenced and heavily punished. These measures were taken by men and are enforced by more men, known as the Sentinels. Three types of witches and three types of punishment; prison, correctional camps, or death.

Chloe is 'The One', the most powerful witch, and the one person who may be able to unite the power of these women.

The author takes her readers on Chloe's journey, accompanied by a varied mix of characters, including my favourite character; Daniel, her father. The united front that these diverse 'gang of four' create is so well developed and it's interesting and refreshing to find a male lead character of Chinese descent who is not a martial-arts practising warrior, veering toward the bad. Instead we have, in Daniel, a trust worthy, wholesome character who is loyal and not afraid to buck the trend.

At it's heart, this is a story about powerful women and how weaker men, who have gained powerful positions through contacts and money, are frightened. There are scenes with the US President, who whips his followers into a frenzy that are oh so familiar, and turned my blood a little cold when reading. 

A wonderfully executed mix of fantasy, magic and social issues. For me, a challenging read, but one that I'm happy to have read. I have learned from and enjoyed this reading experience. There's a massive audience out there already for books like this, and I'd also recommend it to anyone who wants something that's a little out of their usual reading habits. It's well worth the the gamble. 

Lizzie Fry is the pseudonym of an internationally acclaimed author and script editor. 

As well as working with numerous film production companies, she is a core member of the London Screenwriters' Festival board.

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