Spring 2022 Reads – Best Books of the Season

I’ve read so many fantastic books already this year. And somehow my to-be-read pile never seems to get any smaller! Here are a few of the best ones from this spring. A story of witchcraft in 1893…or perhaps a story of women’s rights, power and potential throughout all time. A story of mysteries and lies beginning to unravel when a man searching for a lost woman finds an isolated community of people living in the woods, cut off from society. A tale of humor, empathy, strength and love when an interpreter takes a new job working for a headstrong DeafBlind man. And, lastly, a mother-daughter short story by one of my favorite authors.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow

What I was expecting to be a typical fantasy story about witches and magic turned out to be much more. This was a multi-layered reflection on the injustices that women have endured for centuries. The characters embody the ingenuity, cleverness and guile necessary to succeed as a woman in society. And their success depends on the strength and bravery women find through the bonds of sisterhood.

The Eastwood sisters seek to bring about the next age of witchcraft, but not for any nefarious purpose. It is simply because they are tired of seeing womenkind suffer at the hands of men, or be subjected to their every whim or want. The sisters end up discovering far more than witchcraft. They realize that every woman possesses a little magic, she just needs to find the will to use it.

The Once and Future Witches is a beautifully researched story, perfectly placed at an exact moment in history when witchcraft was still deeply feared and those accused were cruelly persecuted. But the story spans time, ripe with issues that STILL haunt women today.

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

 I don’t tend to read suspenseful books. I don’t enjoy them because I generally feel that life is scary enough! But this book drew me in, and I loved it.

Maggie St. James has been missing for five years. Travis Wren has been hired to find her. He walks into the woods where she was last seen…and doesn’t come out. Deep in those same woods lives a secluded, fearful community, cut off from the outside world for many years. When they start to find traces of Maggie and Travis inside their borders, even though none of them have ever seen the couple, their whole reality starts to unravel, and suddenly, they aren’t sure what to fear most anymore.

Side note: I listened to the audio version of this book (beautifully done!), but it is ill-advised to do so on a long solo road trip at night, as I did. I promise you’ll start to see eyes watching you from the darkness at the side of the road…

The Sign for Home by Blair Fells

The Sign for Home is told from the point of view of both a DeafBlind man and his interpreter. It touches on the ideas of what it truly means to care for and about someone, how the limits of someone’s body doesn’t limit the abilities of their heart or their mind, and what it takes to find the strength to stand up for what is right.

This is a truly beautiful story, with complex character who don’t get everything right. But they are a joy to get to know. There is also a huge cross section of minority groups represented – people with different religious beliefs, those with hearing and/or vision impairment, immigrants, LGBTQ community members, some with substance abuse – all trying to find their way forward. It is clear that none of them – gay, straight, sighted, blind, hearing, deaf, able, disabled, or otherwise – has it any better figured out than anyone else. But as long as they are willing to open up and put their ego aside, everyone has something to learn from each other.

My Evil Mother by Margaret Atwood

I was cruising through this new short story by Margaret Atwood, enjoying its wonderful weirdness. (To be fair, most stories by Ms. Atwood do lean toward the wonderfully weird side of things) Then, all of a sudden, near the end, she goes and throws in a gut-punch of a tender mother/daughter moment. It makes the grown daughter stop and rethink everything she has always thought about her mother. And it reminded me – the mother of teenagers – just how insane (at times even evil?) loving a child can make all of us. Do we do things that seem crazy? Who hasn’t talked to themselves? Given the evil-eye to an “enemy”? Muttered a curse under their breath? Made pacts with the devil to get your child to just. Go. To. Sleep.

Just saying….Maybe there’s a little necessary evil in every parent, at least in the eyes of our children. The little angels.