Monday, February 8, 2016

Witches of Lychford, by Paul Cornell

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(Modern Fantasy; Lychford) An English village contains a barrier between worlds, and three very different women must work together to protect it from destruction by a new supermarket. (30,000 words; Time: 1h:40m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Award-Worthy

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Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Judith, Lizzie, and Autumn all represent different aspects of knowledge. Judith's is the old, arcane sort. Lizzie's is the old, religious kind, and Autumn is the new, scientific knowledge. All three are damaged in one way or another.

At the start, Judith is the only one who's functional, and she has to explain things to the other two. Autumn, though, saves the day by applying logic and experimentation to magic. (Amusingly, she essentially gets government support for her project.) But it is Lizzie who finds her faith and banishes the demon back to Hell.

It's very fitting that it is ultimately the town itself that makes the decision to refuse the store. Autumn merely gives them the freedom to do so. And yet Judith's futile effort also has weight because it makes the mayor pity her enough to seek redemption through public confession.

At the end, Autumn is in her glory, but we realize that Judith is still haunted by her dead husband, and that she probably won't ever be happy. Lizzie, though, recognizes that her husband's ghost (which kept asking her to use the money) was a bad thing, and she finds the strength to banish it.

We're confident the gate between the worlds is in safe hands now.

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