Book Reviews

Book Review: A Fade of Widows

By Petra Abernathy

Published January 2022

363 Pages

Lowri is a descendant of both the Celts and magical women.  She is also a widow and battles with identity loss, which she calls the fade.  She holds on only to care for her daughter, Phaedra, a widow as well.  Both spin their own magic to create beautiful things – Lowri in interior designs that show the future her clients desire; Phaedra in pottery that soothes the soul.  

The story begins with the death of Lowri’s father, bringing in the third widow, Sybil.  Despite her loss, Sybil refuses to fade, just as she’s refused to accept her gifts throughout her life.  All three attempt to come to terms with their grief; Lowri by caring for her troubled daughter, Sybil by focusing on the next available man to help her, and Phaedra by turning to a deeper magic that threatens to overwhelm her.

This was truly a magical book.  The prose is lyrical, sweeping the reader along in the women’s grief and ultimate healing.  However, despite it being magical, I don’t think this was magical realism, which (to me) would imply that their magic is accepted, or at least acknowledged, by the community at large. Not only is this not the case, but Lowri doesn’t even discuss her magic with Phaedra and we have no reason to believe that anyone outside the family is aware of their gifts. This was, instead, Witch Lit.  All three women were descendants of a magical line and all three used their talents to a different degree.  I have to surmise that the curse of that magic may have been the loss of their husbands and since Lowri’s mother refused to be “different” and rejected her abilities, this could explain why her husband lived as long as he did.  That said, magical realism versus Witch Lit is really a matter of semantics and didn’t affect my rating one way or the other.

There is deep symbolism in this book.  I was delighted to see Hekate featured so prominently, mirrored by the three women as living representations of the maiden, mother, and crone.  The author delves into the legend of Hekate fairly deeply, although I wasn’t very keen on her overall representation of the goddess as vengeful and the ultimate antagonist in the novel.  

There are several points of view in the book, a few of which didn’t seem pertinent at first.  The way I see it, the use of multiple points of view are often employed to delve into several characters, to gain a better understanding of each of them.  Other times, it’s to give a broader view of the story.  And while Lowri was the protagonist, the story drove this novel rather than any one character.  The timeline flows from the present to the past and back to the present, mixing points of view and weaving a tapestry of each woman’s powers, flaws, and life experiences.  It was beautifully done.

I did have one issue with pacing.  The present and past were so beautifully built up that the ending felt rushed.  I wish the same attention and depth that were given to the first three quarters of the book had been employed in the end.  Not that the ending wasn’t satisfying, but I felt that the reader was left to their own devices in finding the true meaning of events that were more clearly shown earlier in the book.   

Regardless, I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a deeply symbolic read or wants to dive deeper into mystical fiction.  

I rated this book 3.75 stars.  

I’d like to thank BookSirens for providing the Advance Review Copy and I’ve left this review voluntarily and honestly.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

My rating system:

5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.

4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.

3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.

2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.


“A Fade of Widows” interpreted by Wombo Dream

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