Cackle by Rachel Harrison – Book Review

I REALLY enjoyed spending an afternoon in the pages of Cackle. Its tone and voice was just so readable and I found the sarcastic, often funny vibe of the lead character, Annie Crane, to be highly relatable, like talking to a friend.

I’ve seen Cackle described as both horror and Gothic and while yes, there are fantasy and some gory elements, they all come across as very metaphorical to me. I would pitch this as a story of empowerment – a woman’s transformation and growth. With added spiders, witchcraft and curses. Let me explain.

Opening sentence: The sky is a strange colour.

After her boyfriend of 10 years, Sam, ends their relationship, claiming they are more friends than lovers, Annie takes a new teaching job in a small town called Rowan and moves out of the New York apartment she shared with Sam.

It’s a new kind of sadness. Who knew it came in so many varieties?

Rowan is a huge contrast from New York city. It’s quaint and calm and Annie instantly feels at home there. However, she is struggling to get through her breakup. She doesn’t know who she is when she’s not in a relationship – she’s lost and sad. These emotions are described so well. You really feel for Annie and are there with her as she navigates her new reality.

Getting to know the locals in Rowan, Annie is befriended by the beautiful and enigmatic Sophie, who has a penchant for wearing long black dresses…

Find your inner witch

Sophie has a power of the town and Annie needs to work out why. As she hangs out with her more, who Sophie really is becomes clearer to Annie, as do Sophie’s true powers.

It’s such a nice thing to have your presence acknowledged as something of value. For a moment, everything glitters.

Cackle is a story about finding your inner strength, about cutting ties with expected society conventions, finding out what it is we really want, to stop being people pleasers and live for ourselves. It just so happens it’s through witchcraft that this story communicates its empowering message. Very fitting as women who broke society norms were called a ‘witch’ to silence and stop them. Cackle spins this on its head and gives a rally cry for us all to embrace our inner witch.

That things I’ve previously known as fantasy, as pure fiction, can exist within my reality.

Full of emotion, characters you care for and a strong message, I loved Cackle! Also – from Beauty and the Beast to Britney Spears, the cultural references scattered throughout were brilliant.

Get it on your October witch-themed reading list!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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