A spirited young Englishwoman, Abitha, arrives at a Puritan colony betrothed to a stranger – only to become quickly widowed when her husband dies under mysterious circumstances. All alone in this pious and patriarchal society, Abitha fights for what little freedom she can grasp onto, while trying to stay true to herself and her past.
Enter Slewfoot, a powerful spirit of antiquity newly woken… and trying to find his own role in the world. Healer or destroyer? Protector or predator? But as the shadows walk and villagers start dying, a new rumor is whispered: Witch.
Both Abitha and Slewfoot must swiftly decide who they are, and what they must do to survive in a world intent on hanging any who meddle in the dark arts.
The old adage of “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” has been proven time and time again to be true. Sometimes the cover makes the book more attractive. Sometimes it makes it less attractive, and sometimes, like in the case of Slewfoot, it can be misleading. This cover is a woman hovering in front of the moon on a broom, holding a skull. Her feet and legs are cloven and furry, but the drawing looks peaceful and somewhat charming. This means I started this book thinking it was going to be whimsical, like most tales about witches. I was totally wrong.
The story takes place in 1666, where the puritans are punishing women for talking out of turn and anyone who does not obey the town’s reverends and the Word of God. One half of the story is about Abitha, a widow who has to repay the debts of her missing (presumed dead) husband. Her husband’s brother is a real villain, and he is only trying to save his farm by taking hers. The other half is about Slewfoot, who wakes from a deep sleep and is trying to figure out his place in the world. A few people from the village see him and call him what they think he is, Satan. All of these worlds collide, and the fallout is swift and severe.
I did not have a great amount of motivation to read coming into this novel. I had not read Brom before, and I expected something like my misconceived notions about stories involving witches, that it is going to be fun and light. The truth is that this is a horror novel. There are no arguments against it. This is dark and muddy. This is bloody and gory. This is a revenge story. This is a slasher. This is Slewfoot doing what Slewfoot needs to do to protect Mother Earth and his friends.. And it could not have had a better setting, a better main character, a better villain, and a better ending. Brom writes in a way that is cinematic and emotionally captivating. The feelings that I have for these characters, the attachment I have for the plot, and the love I have for the story really transcends more than just the page. I had not read Brom before, but I have now poked around his website some, and I realize that he is the one that drew the cover, that he has been writing novels and creating art for a long time. I will be reading some of his back catalog based on the strength of Slewfoot.
I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.