Read an ARC via NetGalley
Content warning: Workers’ rights violations, terminal illness
In Lowell, Massachusetts, weavers are fed up with long hours, unfair and unequal wages, and terrible working conditions. Judith and Hannah, literal witches, band their boarders together with witch craft and hope, starting a union to fight back against their managers.
This novella is just fun. The witchcraft is very real and well-defined on the page. There is a delightful camaraderie between all the girls (and yes, there are girls who kiss in this book). What stood out to me the most about the magic was the fact that it was consent-based. You couldn’t just cast a spell on an object if it wasn’t yours, and you couldn’t cast a spell on a person if they didn’t want it. This type of system lent itself well to the unity experienced by the unionizing girls.
It really leans into its historical period by contextualizing the plight of the young factory workers while also anchoring the events in the context of how work is valued. The cultural and historical context is rich here, which makes it an engaging read from start to finish.