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Slewfoot

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Dark Fantasy with a little Historical Fiction and Horror mixed in!  Or is it a Dark Historical Fiction with Horror and Fantasy or Horror with the others?  Whatever way you mix it, this is a dark and spooky story.  Not for the faint of heart with the level of evil and gore present.  If it were only about non-human monsters.  

Abitha is a mail-order bride, sold by her father to a puritan man in the new colony in 1666.  Fortunately, the husband is not the horrible man I expected, but there are plenty of those in the community, namely his brother.  Garrett sets off a chain of events after the death of Abitha's husband that mirror the Salem witch trials.  Concurrently, there is a strange presence that Abitha encounters who helps her against Garrett's wiles, but what is he exactly?  He is a strange man-goat, but seems to be kind and helpful to Abitha, which does not seem devilish, at least to her understanding.  When Abitha's life is on the brink, and Samson the man-goat figure finally understands who he really is, the story explodes in a cacophony of magic, revenge, and blood.

This was a real departure for me personally.  I don't often read horror or fantasy, and definitely not this dark.  I was very taken in my Abitha's story and began to feel the drive for revenge of the wrongs done to her.  I was more on the fence with Samson.  I couldn't figure out what part he would eventually play, though I could guess, and when it came together I wasn't surprised.  

The themes were interesting here, at least that which I could catch.  It seemed a real flip on the idea that the Puritan's were these pious folk who only came to the new world to freely practice their religion, but instead simply sought a place to more rigorously practice their severe patriarchal power plays.  Not sure I would disagree there.  I did find it helpful that this story did show this umbrella grouping did not include everyone (as most do not).  Another fascinating idea that I am still processing is the idea that the "devil" or whatever is not all evil.  There were a lot of blending of myths and religious imagery that would take a deeper conversation to unwrap, but it was intriguing.  The conclusion leaves me wondering.  I don't want to say exactly as it would be a spoiler, but there is a question left of what is good and what is evil.  

Ultimately, I think this story was not for me.  It was a too dark for my tastes and I'm left with a bit of a discontent.  That said, if you like this genre, I think it will be a great story, especially nearing Halloween.  It was told with tension building and deep character development with an astoundingly vivid atmosphere.  It is not a thriller/horror, but a deeper dive into the good vs. evil idea which was more than I expected.  I think my only real critique is that there did seem to be a LOT of repetition of the name of satan, devil, etc.  I was briefly reminded of Dana Carvey's churchlady on SNL which lauded me a bit of needed levity!

The narration was done really really well.  I could follow along easily and appreciated all the different voices she gave.  The tone was definitely added to by the narrator and the voice quivers and pauses were perfect.

Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me this ALC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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2.5 yeah I had some issues with the book about 60% of the way through. I didn’t appreciate the characterization of a group of people or the way it kept being gone over and over again with never any true dispute towards it. Also the very “Whole New World” moment in the book really was just not it. The beginning of the book I really appreciated. The last 40% or so was not at all what I was wanting. Epilogues also are very often overrated and hardly needed. 

Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read this one, I hope to read more by the author perhaps because so much of the story I did enjoy.
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I loved this book! 

Abitha is an outspoken (bit snarky) young English lass shipped off to Puritan America to marry a man a decade her senior.

She’s the perfect subtle witch, making charms & casting small spells. An outspoken free spirit! She’s a handful for a sweet sheepish man who’s brother walks all over him. They live, upkeep, renovate, work a farm in the middle of no where … that the evil brother owns even though it’s part of an inheritance, one more loan payment & it’s theirs!

Abitha is quickly widowed at the same time an ancient entity (Slewfoot) is awoken. Slewfoot’s memory is missing so he’s trying to determine if he’s good or bad and where he fits in this world, a bit like Abitha. 

An independent young woman didn’t fare well in Puritan times so as you can imagine we get a taste of the times & the evil that men do. 

Every once in awhile I yearn for a well written historical fiction book that involves witches in a less Harry Potter light. This was it!! 

Good narration. 

I really enjoyed this audiobook! Brom is becoming an auto buy author!

Thank you NetGalley & Macmillan audio for providing a copy of this wonderful audiobook!
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I am not sure how to describe how I feel about this book and that is not really a thing for me. 
I can tell you that this is a wonderful historical fiction/mystery gem.

I have to admit I am not well versed in the Horror-goryish genre but have been looking to change that. So, when this book was available for me to preview I had to jump on it. 
This is my first Brom experience and I have to say that after Slewfoot that will also change. I need more Brom in my life.
Abitha is a force to be recking with and the fact that her story takes place in a time where women were treated as a mere commodity, is admirable.
The magic aspects are absolutely insane. The gore is great, but some aspects bordered on cringe. 
The puritans are simply-- cultists, and we all know how absolutely dangerous the outcome of that is.

I particularly loved the ending. It was the best part of the entire book!
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Brom always spins such intricate fantasy worlds. His art and writing are both very vivid and exciting.  I absolutely love this story. The year is 1666 and it is very common in the puritan towns for a woman to be accused of witchcraft whenever she didn't completely conform to the strict ideals of the church or if she became a nuisance to a man of standing.  Abitha is strong willed and stubborn, both traits that definitely make her not a good puritan wife. She also isn't nearly as helpless as her main antagonist, her greedy self-centerd brother-in-law Wallace, thinks she is. I liked "the wild folk," interesting creatures and the being known as Slewfoot, and many other names. As Brom usually does, he portays beings usually viewed as strictly villainous in a more sympathetic light. Nothing is pure evil or pure good as we usually define it. Any fan of Brom's works will enjoy this tale, it would also make a good introduction for new fans.  This review is of the audio book version of this story. The narrator, Barrie Kreinik is perfect for this story. She does very well with the Puritan speech patterns and her talent really comes through during a portion of the story where Abitha sings. I back tracked and listened to the song again. 
Thank you to MacMillan audio and Netgalley for the opportunity to enjoy this amazing audio-ARC.
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This was my first experience with Brom, and I actually really enjoyed this book.
I think that there is a distinct lack of witchy tales in horror, so I was glad to read this, and just in time for fall and Halloween. 
I loved that this was not just a witchy book set in puritan New England, but that there was a lot more description of the folklore surrounding the devil during that time period.  I don't like to say too much about the plot when I review, so I will leave it at that. I will say that it took it a moment to get going, but when it hit its stride it was good.
The audiobook was well produced and the narrator really brought Abitha to life. She was a character that I could get behind and root for.
If you are a fan of witchy tales and folk horror, this is definitely a book you will want to pick up.
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Oh was there ever a more sanctimonious group of people than the Puritans? Every single time I read a novel about witchcraft, I just want those crazy people to be taught a lesson. Luckily, we get that in spades in this novel.
Slewfoot is novel of bewitchment, devilry, and witchcraft. It's magical in its crafting. Abitha Williams just wants to be left alone to tend her farm. As a young widow, she can be her husband's representative and pay her brother-in-law what she owes for the family farm. But the fool man just can't leave well enough alone. He's constantly trying to make sure Abitha forfeits the farm to him. Luckily, she has help in Samson, who may or may not be the devil. He seems a benevolent forest/nature spirit but there does lurk something sinister beneath his surface. When Abitha is arrested for witchcraft (because of course she is) Samson is battling his own demons trying to figure out who he actually is. The ending is spectacular and no spoilers but those ridiculous townfolk do get more than they bargained for in Abitha's revenge!

*Thanks so much to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for this early MP3 version*
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First off, HUGE thank you to the publisher for allowing me to enjoy this story in all of its formats. I was able to feast my ears upon the magic of the audiobook (which was AMAZING) as well as read from the physical book (which is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING).

I've had a few Brom books on my TBR for quite some time, but had not gotten around to reading them. That being said, I'm so glad that Slewfoof was my introduction to this wonderful author. This book was pure magic and nostalgia for me. It brought me back to my reading roots of witchy tales such as The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which gave me my love of reading to begin with. It also gave me that wondrous feeling of watching a movie inside my head and I could picture all the story and characters so vividly. I imagined the forest folk the way Henson portrayed the goblins in Labrynth. I was so imersed in this tale and I know this is one I will be revisiting time and again.

Brom has such an amazing talent of bringing the reader right into the world that he has so lovingly created. I could picture the town, the people and the way of life that was led back in that time. I could feel Abitha's anguish and need to prove herself and not have to live a life of servitude to her terrible brother-in-law. To be free of the rules and live a life that was meaningful for herslef. As the great Pierce Brown would say "I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war", the same was true for Abitha. No matter what, she would never live in peace during a time when women were of little worth without a man.

This story flashes from Abitha's story to the story of Slewfoot and the forest folk, which eventually meet up and intertwine. This is where I get the Labrynth vibes lol. When it flashes to the forest folk I picture the parts in the movie where the goblins are scurrying around and wondering "did she say it" hahaha. I loved these parts as this is where the magic comes into play and where we, the reader, and Slewfoot himself start to find out who he is and why he has been brought back after such a long slumber.

I loved the interactions and understanding that Abitha and Slewfoot had for each other, even if the townspeople and forest folk were both set against such things. Slewfoot was such an interesting character and I really enjoyed watching how Brom made the "devil" story his own.

I honestly could go on and on about this book, but I feel like it's best if I stop here so I don't ruin anything and let you feel the magic for yourselves. I HIGHLY suggest the physical book with all of it's illustrations, but I would also urge you to check out the audio for the book if that is your thing. The audio narration is perfection! The narrator does all the different voices, bringing every character to life. Between the narration and the writing itself, it creates such a special kind of experience for this book. I think it is safe to say I will be binging though Brom's other works as soon as possible!
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Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery by Brom
Pub date: September 14, 2021
Format: Audiobook and DRC
5 stars

I’ve been reading a bit about the Puritan witch trials lately and I am both appalled yet fascinated by this ghastly part of history. While Slewfoot has a deep root in history, there is a strong element of fantasy/horror prominent throughout. It is wholly unique, devastatingly dark and a monstrously beautiful tale. 

To begin with, Abitha, the main character and narrator is a woman of great strength and resilience – she is, in short, a truly admirable character. Faced with the death of her husband and fighting a misogynistic community, she fights to overcome the constraints put upon her using intelligence and bravery. 
Despite her strength of character, it is 1666 Colonial America and as we all know of this time, all it takes is one finger pointing and calling out ‘witch’ to bring a woman to the gallows. Abitha is no stranger to charms and potions, little things that are more to give confidence than to illicit any sort of magic. But these are dangerous times to be dabbling in charms and potions. 

“Her mother, though, she’d been a true cunning woman, and it was through her teachings – teachings cut short upon her untimely death [….] That Abitha had gained the handful of remedies, charms and divinations she now possessed.”

Her meeting of and eventual relationship with the devil Slewfoot, who Abitha calls Samson, changes everything and watching their relationship evolve throughout the story is a thing of beauty. It took away from the God awfulness of humanity and balanced the dark nature of the story. The lore of the Wild Folk, Mother Earth and all things magical are the icing on the cake of this delicious piece of work. 

Narration: Barrie Kreinik narrates and she is a favorite of mine. She has a unique voice that is affecting and melodic; carrying a perfect rhythm that invited me into the story and kept me invested. 

This is an exceptional story that I highly recommend to fans of Hour of the Witch, The Witches-1692, The Manningtree Witches or any fan of the genre. 

My thanks to @Macmillan.Audio and @TorBooks for the gifted copies to review.
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