The Crow Witch and Other Conjurings by Catherine Cavendish is a chilling collection of stories that, while each story is unique, they each have a wonderful underlying gothic horror vibe that is perfect for fall reading!
Content warnings for suicide and cancer.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on The Crow Witch and Other Conjurings
So first things first, how spooky is that cover design?! This was created by Cyrus Wraith Walker. I can’t wait for my physical copy to arrive so I can take a look at it in person!
And for the book, you all know that I’m obsessed with Cat’s work already. To find out that this is her first short fiction collection? I couldn’t wait to start reading!
Right off the bat, this one chilled me so badly, I had to go read in another room so my back wasn’t to the open room. After that, each story brought its own level of terror that bled through the very last page.
Each story sucked me in immediately and I just couldn’t stop reading until the end. So be careful if you’re prone to telling yourself you’ll read just one more page…
Per usual, here are my notes on each tale included in this collection:
The Crow Witch –
Welcoming all to hear her story, this narrator warns that in the upcoming seven tales, “Some may lead you to the truth, some may steer you falsely. All may provide the answers you seek—or none. It’s your decision.”
What a very creepy introduction to kick off these tales! I read this one while at my standing desk that is pushed up against the wall, with the rest of the room behind me… and now I want to redecorate to have my back to the wall instead. I could feel the hairs on my neck stand up while reading this one and I had to go read in another room.
Sour Grapes –
This tale starts out with a bit of a neighborly distrust, but blossoms into something much darker and much more dangerous. With each passing page, I got more and more nervous for the main character. The thought of plants growing that fast was very unsettling!
The Oubliette of Élie Loyd –
While on a vacation, a woman realizes her and her boyfriend of six months need to break up. She gives him an hour to get out of there, but when she returns, he’s still there and he mentions something cryptic as he leaves. She brushes it off, but readers will see a red flag there. Later, when exploring an old castle with someone she had just met, she realizes that she has made a grave error. But could she have avoided this, or was the fate already written?
Another unsettling tale that will make readers want to shout at the main character to not do what she’s about to go do.
Euphemia Christie –
After a trip to a cemetery sends Marie into an obsessive research binge, she feels a dramatic pull to get answers. She can’t rest until she finds out more about a woman named Euphemia Christie. But when she starts to dig, she’s met with icy or angry responses by the townspeople. But of course, that only makes her that much more determined.
This story was filled with tension and old scandal. I loved the pacing and that I could never have guessed what was about to happen next with each turn!
The Lost Prophecy of Ursula Sontheil –
Every year, this woman reads a story of her family that has been handed down from mother to daughter for generations. When the story retelling begins, we find that when a man goes to her to ask for help, she gets a warning that something is off, but she can’t quite put her finger on it. But the night is still young, and what it unfolds about what must continue to be passed down is shocking.
I love tales about stories that are passed down, and this tale had such a dark and mysterious atmosphere to it. The real world elements that were pulled in were extra chilling.
Daft Old Bat –
Having others call her horrible names won’t deter this woman from her mission; to end the Sawyer bloodline.
I really admire the calm and collected demeanor this woman had when faced with some really awful things! The end of this one had such sweet vengeance!
Marzana’s Hut –
Forced to hang out with her cousin, Nancy, in hopes that she will become more extroverted, Katy tries to make the most of her time with her cousin. One day, Katy makes her swear to tell no one that she brought her to Marzana’s Hut. Katy is hesitant, but like everything else, goes along with it. This willingness to do whatever Nancy says is already off to a rough start, but it’s about to get much worse.
Being a teenage girl is difficult to begin with, but it’s downright unbearable when others pressure you to be someone else. The start of this tale really hit home for me! I was a super shy kid that much preferred being home with my books than out with the other kids. This story was so tense and dread filled, I kept forgetting to breathe! The ending is brilliant. I would love more stories from this character!
The Malan Witch –
When a woman named Robyn goes to stay at her sister’s cottage, she immediately begins to experience some odd occurrences. Trying to brush them off from an overactive imagination after reading a Joe Hill book before bed, she goes into town for supplies. But there, she chats with a local and learns more about where she is staying. Soon, her trip to relax turns into the fight of her life.
Super cool to see a character named Robyn in this one! I loved her choice of bedtime reading; Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, one of my favorites! And my goodness is this one action packed and scary! I loved the build from cozy to full on terror, even with a dash of second guessing thrown in! The ending is another that I was totally satisfied with, but also shouted “OH NO!” So I would be very happy with a follow up story if one were to ever come out!
My Favorite Passages from The Crow Witch and Other Conjurings
You have seen her. I can guarantee it. Out of the corner of your eye, especially when you were a child and more receptive to such things. You have seen something dart out right on the edge of your peripheral vision and you have been momentarily startled. As you grew older, you witnessed this less and less and now it’s probably a rare occurrence. You have felt something close up behind you. Maybe you can even feel it now. No, don’t turn around. Not yet.
I followed her down a narrow corridor, farther and farther into the bowels of the castle, our only light the solitary candle that flickered so much I was sure it would extinguish itself. My nerves jangled with every step that took us away from the world outside and deeper into an unknown, unseen realm of darkness with its odor of rank damp and decay.
Mysteries had always intrigued me. I blamed it on an early diet of Agatha Christie, John Grisham, and Patricia Cornwell.
One day soon, the time will prove right for you to warn mankind by uttering the prophecy. And it will come to pass. Perhaps then the world will understand. Its fate is its own doing—and its undoing. That is its curse.
A nice cup of tea, I think. Then there’s work to do.
The woodland had grown even denser here, blocking out the sunlight so that it seemed more like dusk than early afternoon. There appeared nothing but trees and moss-covered fallen branches. It was much quieter too. Birds didn’t seem to care for this part of the wood.
Dad didn’t say much. His smile spoke for him as did the squeeze of his hand. That told me everything was going to be all right. Not the same, of course. Never the same. But all right.
Shadows shrouded every corner.
My Final Thoughts on The Crow Witch and Other Conjurings
If you’re a fan of spooky reads that will leave you looking over your shoulder, or avoiding looking into mirrors just in case there’s something there you don’t want to see, then this is a book for you!
While a killer read for any time of year, there’s something extra special about reading this one in the month of October.
Snag your copy directly from Weird House Press while supplies last!
I just got my copy in the mail:
In celebration of the release of The Crow Witch, check out this interview with Cat where we discussed what her earliest memory of writing was, what genres she enjoys reading, as well as the books she would recommend to readers that haven’t yet tried her work!