Originally published: May 2019
Author: Katie Lowe
Published by: Harper Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 18-24 May 2019
Told by the main protagonist, Violet as an adult, we look back to 1998 when a 16-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no obvious cause of death. The story looks back at the events leading up this tragic discovery.
After her Dad and sister are killed in a car crash that Violet miraculously survives, she enrols in Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a dilapidated quiet coastal town where she lives. It soon becomes apparent that Elm Hollow has an unpleasant history as the site of some famous 17th century witch trials, something the Dean of the school has an interest in. She soon becomes friendly with a group of girls – the glamorous and streetwise Robin, who introduces Violet to alcohol, drugs and older boys, privileged rich girl Alex and the quieter, troubled Grace. Violet is happy to be included in a friendship group, having had few friends at her previous school. She cements her relationship with the girls when she is invited to become part of an advanced study group by art teacher Annabel.
Before long the girls become interested in witchcraft and after a ritual, convince themselves they have summoned The Furies. Part of Greek mythology, The Furies were the female underworld deities of vengeance, sometimes referred to as “infernal goddesses”.
Things take a distinctly darker turn as Violet gets more deeply involved with the girls, especially Robin. When a teenage girl who has been missing for several months (who also happens to have been Robin’s best friend) turns up dead, Violet starts to question her friendship and who she trusts.
First of all, I’m not sure what genre this book falls in to – it was described to me by the publishers as a literary thriller but after discussions with my husband, we have decided on YA – it is primarily about 16 year old girls and their friendships. Despite it being set over 20 years ago, I think a lot of the issues raised in this book would still apply to teens today.
I struggled to get in to this at first – it felt a little slow to get going and didn’t immediately capture my interest. It had an American feel to me (a school holiday was described as Spring Break) and because I have had no experience of elite 6th form colleges I couldn’t help but picture an American college! I also couldn’t get the movie “The Craft” out of my head which didn’t help as I kept visualising the 4 girls in this novel as the 4 girls from the film!
But I stuck with it and I’m glad I did because I soon became caught up in this dark twisty thriller. None of the girls are very nice, even to each other and at times that was difficult to read about. This is the ultimate study of toxic female friendships and girl power! As the novel progresses the girls start to feel almost invincible, and things gets very dark. This was a thrilling, richly atmospheric story and as I love anything to do with witches and the supernatural, it was a great book for me to read.
Many thanks to HarperVoyager for sending me a copy and all the other witchy items in the picture.
About the author:
Katie is a writer living in Worcester, UK.
A graduate of the University of Birmingham, Katie has a BA(Hons) in English and an MPhil in Literature & Modernity, and is returning to Birmingham in 2019 to commence her PhD in female rage in literary modernism and contemporary women’s writing.
The Furies is her first novel.