Half Spent Was the Night | Penguin Random House Canada
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Ami McKay's Witches

Half Spent Was the Night

A Witches' Yuletide

Publisher: Knopf Canada
Beloved author Ami McKay is back, bringing us a magical follow-up in the tradition of Victorian winter tales to her mesmerizing bestseller, The Witches of New York.

During the nights between Christmas and New Year's, the witches of New York--Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and the youngest, Beatrice Dunn--gather before the fire to tell ghost stories and perform traditional Yuletide divinations. (Did you know that roasting chestnuts was once used to foretell one's fate?)
     As the witches roast chestnuts and melt lead to see their fate, a series of odd messengers land on their doorstep bearing invitations for a New Year's Eve masquerade hosted by a woman they've never met. Gossip, dreams and portents follow, leading the witches to question the woman's motives. Is she as benevolent as she seems or is she laying a trap? And so, as Gilded-Age New York prepares to ring in the new year, the witches don their finery and head for the ball, on the hunt for answers that might well be the end of them.

PRAISE FOR

Praise for Ami McKay's previous book, THE WITCHES OF NEW YORK

“A magical little book. . . . Witches may be McKay’s best effort yet in the way it combines humour, the occult and history into a fascinating and fun novel of women supporting each other.” —The Vancouver Sun

“Widely considered part of the A-list of contemporary writers, McKay has created and occupied a vital territory in Canadian letters, with scrupulously researched historical fiction foregrounding female characters and lives against traditionally masculine settings and milieus. . . . For all its ideas, its imperatives, The Witches of New York is a keenly pleasurable reading experience, and over all too soon. One cannot help but want to spend more time in the company of these witches.” —National Post

“A compelling, fast-paced story.” —Canadian Living

“The overlap of realism and magic is the book’s charm. . . . The Witches of New York is carefully researched, and its interspersing of historical accounts gives it a gently archival feel. Descriptions of period dress are loving . . . and society types straight out of Edith Wharton pursue spiritualism for fun. . . . McKay is a fine plotter. . . . Now, when governments and religions still have a tight grip on reproduction, and Trumpian misogyny has been grimly spotlit, McKay’s work takes on pointed meaning. Her women go calmly about their business in a hostile world, circumventing the system wherever they can, getting up every time they’re knocked down. Abracadabra: this is their real magic.” —Alix Hawley, author of All True Not a Lie in It, The Globe and Mail

The Witches of New York is an ‘enchanting’ read that’ll leave you horrified. Fans of Victorian fiction will enjoy this outing. All of tropes of the time are present here: the glamour of the Gilded Age, the tragedy of prostitutes and Fallen Women, the suffering of the toiling lower classes, the growing power of the suffragettes and the ever-present spectres of ghosts, angels and demons. The book is richly researched, and packed with enticing historical detail. McKay’s prose is, as always, superb—the descriptions enchanting, the narrative arcs compelling, the characters dear (or deliciously sinister, as the case may be). But it is the emotion of the novel that lingers longest, the pervading horror over the persecution of women.” —Toronto Star

“Step into an exciting and spellbinding world, brought to us by the soaring imagination of Ami McKay . . . a celebrated purveyor of intrigue, dark arts and fascinating fragments of real history. . . . A dark, atmospheric tale. . . . McKay’s seductive novel unfurls slowly amidst a miasma of menace, mischief, mystery and mesmerising magic. . . . This a clever, compelling story of determined, independent women fighting for a place in a man’s world of chauvinism, oppression and prejudice. . . . Using the atmospheric backdrop of New York City on the cusp of monumental change and packed with the wisdom of the ages and the authority of an author with a resonant message, this is a rich, chilling and thrilling story.” —Lancashire Evening