Cackle by Rachel Harrison
Publication Date: October 5, 2021
Summary from NetGalley:
A darkly funny, frightening novel about a young woman learning how to take what she wants from a witch who may be too good to be true, from the author of The Return.
All her life, Annie has played it nice and safe. After being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend, Annie seeks a fresh start. She accepts a teaching position that moves her from Manhattan to a small village upstate. She’s stunned by how perfect and picturesque the town is. The people are all friendly and warm. Her new apartment is dreamy too, minus the oddly persistent spider infestation.
Then Annie meets Sophie. Beautiful, charming, magnetic Sophie, who takes a special interest in Annie, who wants to be her friend. More importantly, she wants Annie to stop apologizing and start living for herself. That’s how Sophie lives. Annie can’t help but gravitate toward the self-possessed Sophie, wanting to spend more and more time with her, despite the fact that the rest of the townsfolk seem…a little afraid of her. And like, okay. There are some things. Sophie’s appearance is uncanny and ageless, her mansion in the middle of the woods feels a little unearthly, and she does seem to wield a certain power…but she couldn’t be…could she?
ARC provided by Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley for an honest review.
I totally confess that I picked this book solely on the cover and title. Although reading the blurb did seal the deal. But I have a feeling that the cover and title will sell this book more than anything else. But cover aside this was a great read and I am so glad that it did catch my attention.
Annie finds herself in a place that any woman will recognize and relate to. I loved her journey throughout this book and how much she grew. She started out being timid and so unsure of herself but by the end she is glorious. There were a few minutes when I did worry about her though, and thought things were not going to go her way, but there is a happy, yet somewhat creepy ending to this tale.
Sophie, on the other hand, was at times hard to like. She was both lovely and scary at the same time. I thought she pushed Annie a little to hard at times, and I really didn’t like her condescending tone at others, but I can’t argue with her results.
I have to give a little shout out to Ralph, the spider and Annie’s sort of familiar. I loved him, and I am afraid to admit that I found him a bit adorable. (In real life I am somewhat afraid of large hairy spiders, so to admit that I liked Ralph is a surprise to me.) He certainly steals a few scenes and I think this would have been a much darker book without him.
The story is well done, although there were some issues with pacing and slow sections. It is a really good story about a witch, but it is also about self-empowerment and self love. The magical element is there, but it does not overpower the story, but instead enhances it. The setting of a small town was also perfect for the story and the woods that surround Sophie’s house totally made it that much more creepier. The ending of the story does get pretty creepy, but on the whole, it was a dark comedy with a really good message.
If your book club is looking for a witchy story that is dark, creepy and yet has some moments of humor, this is one you should consider. There is a lot to sink your teeth into and discuss with this one.