“You are alone in the woods, dear Abitha. Vulnerable…ever so vulnerable. Why, any awful thing could happen to you out here,” (Brom 75).
Strong-willed and out-spoken Abitha has difficulty adjusting to life in the small Puritan village of Sutton after being sold from England by her drunk father to the colonies, She is lucky to be wed to a kind man, but when he mysteriously dies Abitha finds herself at risk of losing her farm and her livelihood as she knows it and is desperate to fight for what is hers and make a place for herself in a community that would rather have her silenced. Meanwhile, a creature is awoken with few memories of who he used to be and terrifying animal-child hybrids urging him to spill blood. But is the creature as deadly as the wildfolk claim?
This is my fourth Puritan set story of this year, life’s funny like that. While all of the one’s I’ve read have referenced witches or the supernatural in some way, Slewfoot is the first that actually focused on witchcraft and really had the sort of plot I’d been looking for in my other Puritan reads. That being said, Brom’s latest was a much slower read than I expected it to be. It felt more like an origin or creation story of sorts, the horror saved for the very end. Which worked and made sense considering Slewfoot is very much a story about identity and choosing one’s identity over how the world chooses to see you. In many ways it felt very much like The Witch and I think anyone who enjoyed that movie or likes folk horror would really like the atmosphere and story of Slewfoot.
I really enjoyed the characters. Abitha and Samson were both incredibly strong protagonists, each providing an interesting character study on humanity, demonization, and identity. They complimented one another perfectly and I liked how they took similar yet different journeys. Wallace made an excellent antagonist, and even the wildfolk charmed me in the end. Brom’s illustrations are wonderful of course, the full-colour illustrations beautifully detailed and easy to get lost in, but even the illustrated chapter headings drew me in with their chilling details. Just the formatting of the book is gorgeous just with it’s binding and it’s beautiful cover, even though the cover kind of gives away the ending, but part of the beauty of Slewfoot is seeing how the characters we’re introduced to become who they do in the end. The pieces may be there but it’s putting them together that makes it enjoyable.
I will say that I think I’ve had my fill of Puritan stories this year, but Slewfoot was still a good one. Slow moving with all the horror saved to the bloody end, Slewfoot is sure to bewitch reader’s in this chilling tale.
Publication: September 14th 2021
Publisher: Tor Nightfire
Pages: 307 pages (Hardcover)
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Folk Horror, Historical Fiction
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
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.