Book Review : A Sorceress Comes to Call

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review : A Sorceress Comes to CallA Sorceress Comes to Call by T. Kingfisher
Published by Tor Books on August 6, 2024
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Horror
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org
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four-stars
Source: NetGalley

A dark retelling of the Brothers Grimm's Goose Girl, rife with secrets, murder, and forbidden magic
Cordelia knows her mother is unusual. Their house doesn’t have any doors between rooms, and her mother doesn't allow Cordelia to have a single friend—unless you count Falada, her mother's beautiful white horse. The only time Cordelia feels truly free is on her daily rides with him. But more than simple eccentricity sets her mother apart. Other mothers don’t force their daughters to be silent and motionless for hours, sometimes days, on end. Other mothers aren’t sorcerers.
After a suspicious death in their small town, Cordelia’s mother insists they leave in the middle of the night, riding away on Falada’s sturdy back, leaving behind all Cordelia has ever known. They arrive at the remote country manor of a wealthy older man, the Squire, and his unwed sister, Hester. Cordelia’s mother intends to lure the Squire into marriage, and Cordelia knows this can only be bad news for the bumbling gentleman and his kind, intelligent sister.
Hester sees the way Cordelia shrinks away from her mother, how the young girl sits eerily still at dinner every night. Hester knows that to save her brother from bewitchment and to rescue the terrified Cordelia, she will have to face down a wicked witch of the worst kind.

I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again—I’ve never met a T. Kingfisher book that I didn’t like. They all have truly unique world-building, loveable characters, and an endearingly quirky sense of humor. A Sorceress Comes to Call, with its regency setting, strong female characters, and magic is no exception to this rule and is definitely among my favorites of her works.

 

“Sorcerer. Coredelia sat very still, the thought hanging inside her head like a bedsheet on a line. My mother is a sorcerer.”*

 

A Sorceress Comes to Call doesn’t waste any time and plunges readers into the frighteningly icy depths of an abusive mother-daughter relationship. The novel begs the question, “What would you do if the person who gave you life was a final boss level evil villain and you had no hope of ever escaping her?” Fourteen-year-old Cordelia knows her mother, Evangeline, isn’t quite like everyone else’s mother, but the more she finds out, the higher the stakes become. When her conniving mother sets her sights on marrying a rich man, Evangeline gets more than she bargained for in his spinster sister, Hester. Cordelia and Hester must use every bit of their wits and courage to protect the people they care about.

 

“It’s not my place to judge your brother’s paramours, but she’s much too glittering and her daughter is much too frightened.”

 

I cannot say enough good things about A Sorceress Comes to Call. I’m having an absolutely abysmal reading year and few books, other than Yumi and the Nightmare Painter, have been able to hold my interest. A Sorceress Comes to Call grabbed my attention from the very first sentence and held it until the last word. I immediately loved poor Cordelia and was fiercely invested in her happiness. I also lived for the other portrayals of very different strong women in the novel, including Hester and her friends Lady Strauss and Penelope Green. The banter between all of these ladies felt like I had my own seat at their tea table. I even enjoyed the nefarious Evangeline and was always curious to see how her mind would portray things and what she’d do next. 

 

As someone with multiple chronic illnesses, I especially enjoyed Hester and her struggle with aging and intensifying chronic pain. It felt very authentic and relatable to me. I was also delighted in the fact that author Kingfisher let Cordelia, who was entirely sheltered due to the abusive environment fostered entirely by her mother, find her own inner strength without a male love interest—what a breath of fresh air. The one thing that some readers might find lacking is the nitty-gritty explanations of the magical system in the world. Readers never really find out too much about how or why magic exists and works, but it’s in keeping with a story narrated by Cordelia and Hester, who are ignorant of such knowledge.

 

You know the saying, “you can never have enough of a good thing,” right? Well, I was disappointed when the book came to what I felt was a rather sudden ending and even tried turning pages on my Kindle to get to more of the book that didn’t actually exist. I really felt attached to Cordelia (and the rest of the cast of characters) and would have loved to see more than the tiny offered glimpse after the main events and confrontation of A Sorceress Comes to Call. Despite being sad that the novel was over with not too many explanations for the ending or the future of the characters, I was still satisfied with the conclusion overall and recognize that sometimes the happiest endings are those that leave some wiggle room for the readers to imagine all the details of said happy ending. 

 

A Sorceress Comes to Call was an utter delight of a read. It’s fast-paced and charming, with a story that feels like an original take on a familiar fairy tale, managing to feel both fresh and nostalgic all at once. I think it’s a perfect read for anyone who enjoys fairy tales with a bit of a modern lens or for fans of Olivia Atwater’s Regency Faerie Tales series, H.G. Parry’s The Magician’s Daughter, and Stephanie Burgis’s Regency Dragons, or Charlie N. Holmberg’s Paper Magician series will enjoy this novel as well. I’d jump at the chance to read more tales about Cordelia and Hester in the future or other stories taking place in this world too.

 

*All quotes taken from an ARC and subject to change at time of publication.

four-stars
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Book Review : A Sorceress Comes to Call - Blogging with Dragons

Posted May 3, 2024 in ARCS, Book Reviews, Fantasy

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5 responses to “Book Review : A Sorceress Comes to Call

    • Thank you so much, Susy! It’s hard to put into the words the unique charm that Kingfisher’s books have and I’m glad to know I captured it a bit. 😊 I hope you enjoy this one too when you get to it.

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