REVIEW: The Hedge Witch by Cari Thomas

The latest offering from the Sunday Times bestselling author Cari Thomas is her novella The Hedge Witch. Set in her Threadneedle world, The Hedge Witch appears earlier in The Language of Magic chronology than the novel Threadneedle and focuses on the character of Rowan. I believe that readers could easily pick up and enjoy The Hedge Witch with no prior knowledge of Thomas’ rich world. It gives a lovely taste of her writing style and the magics of Threadneedle without the reading commitment of a full size novel. Also, if you read and enjoyed Threadneedle, then The Hedge Witch will be a superb way to return to this realm and learn more about Rowan and the magic of the hedge witches. I would like to thank Harper Voyager and Cari Thomas for sending me an electronic Advanced Reader Copy of The Hedge Witch so that I can review the novella for Grimdark Magazine.  

Cover for The Hedge Witch by Cari ThomasI enjoyed The Hedge Witch and think it was an entertaining read. I will not however be giving it a numerical rating, as like other short fiction such as The Slow Regard of Silent Things, it is not really in the grimdark wheelhouse so would not feel fair to apply one in this instance. The Hedge Witch was a nice sojourn into a whimsical fantasy world, and felt to me quite like a palate cleanser – a refreshing literary bite, savoured in between some epic grimdark tomes. I think it may appeal to some of Grimdark Magazine’s readers as lighter escapism but if they are looking for a gritty, twisted, and morally ambiguous novella then this is not the choice to make.

Set in a modern day magical world, The Hedge Witch follows Rowan on a summer visit to relatives in a small town, nestled in the Welsh countryside, before she starts sixth form. This places Rowan in her mid-teens and the themes of the novella match her age, with Rowan trying to fit in, make friends, assert her independence etc. The Hedge Witch does not have the same urban setting or bildungsroman nature of Threadneedle but it has the same magical concepts and I liked learning more about the plant based magic that The Hedge Witch focuses on.

At just shy of one hundred and fifty pages, The Hedge Witch is an engaging and well-constructed novella. It is marketed as an “adult” fantasy but as with Threadneedle there is nothing content wise that might make me wary of suggesting it to fans of the “young adult” fantasy genre. There are not for example any violent or sexual scenes and any swearing is shown through magical curse words. There are some very humorous moments in the novella and the magical mystery arc held my interest, as did the supernatural elements. I think that some of the minor characters were a little two dimensional, but it would be hard to flesh out and thoroughly develop numerous characters in a story of this size.

Overall I liked The Hedge Witch. I am fond of short fiction and being able to dabble my toes in an array of fantasy worlds without the commitment of novel many hundreds of pages long and The Hedge Witch gave me a few hours of nice charmed exploration. Although it was a little juvenile, I think that is to be expected when the main character is of that age and there is not a traumatic incident in the narrative forcing them to be more adult. Thomas has a straightforward writing style which I prefer when reading a novella but other readers may find it too simplistic. Based on the popularity of Thomas’ novel Threadneedle, The Hedge Witch will undoubtable have a lot of fans when it is released and if Threadneedle or similar coming of age teen witchy dramas are what you like then this is the novella for you.

Read The Hedge Witch by Cari Thomas