Book Review – Shakespeare’s Witch (Web of Witches #1) by Samantha Grosser

First published, 2019

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The story follows Sarah, a young seamstress and secret witch in the time of Shakespeare. Working on the costumes at the Globe, aided by her half-brother, wardrobe master, sometime actor, and unrepentant hedonist, Tom, Sarah finds herself caught in the storyline of Will Shakespeare’s newest play, Macbeth. With the play firmly fixed in the heads of all the players, and the dangerous overtones of witches and the fear they instil, the tension mounts as Sarah and Tom enact rites to draw the objects of their affection to them. But as the line between good and bad blurs to a faded dot on the horizon, how long will it be before Sarah and Tom are recognised as witches and put to death?

The writing is rich, the characters thoroughly explored. I loved the feeling of thwarted desire that plagued Sarah in the early chapters. For example:

“Will’s witches should have no power to frighten her – they were stage hags from a fireside tale ti scare puritans and children, a mishmash of traditions that bore scant relation to any witchcraft she had ever learned. But they had yet possessed a power she didn’t understand, something evil, something secret. And Tom had been one of them, words of dark sorcery on his lips. She no longer felt safe in his presence. And in the midst of her fears there was Nick. The familiar sense of hopeless desire hardened in her belly: if he noticed her at all, he thought of her as nothing more than a child.”
6% in, Chapter Three, The Innocent Flower, Shakespeare’s Witch (Web of Witches #1) by Samantha Grosser

In the early part of the book, I did find myself getting mixed up between Tom (Sarah’s brother) and John (the boy-actor he’s infatuated with) but that’s probably just me; I have a thing with similar-enough sounding names.

There was danger in the writing, which I found unsettling and provocative and, frankly, it suited the subject matter down to the ground. Although some of the narrative is a little uncomfortable – it was very well-written and I liked how elusive the character of Shakespeare was.