Reviews

Blog Tour || Witch Bottle – folk horror that reaches into the very depths of the soul

Thank you so much to Jo Fletcher Books for having me on this Blog Blast for the rather excellent Witch Bottle by Tom Fletcher. I really loved this book and can’t wait to tell you all about it. But also make sure to check out the other amazing bloggers on the tour to see what they have to say too.

The blurb…

Daniel once had a baby brother, but he died, a long time ago now. And he had a wife and a daughter, but that didn’t work out, so now he’s alone. The easy monotony of his job as a milkman in the remote northwest of England demands nothing from him other than dealing with unreasonable customer demands and the vagaries of his enigmatic boss.

But things are changing. Daniel’s started having nightmares, seeing things that can’t possibly be there – like the naked, emaciated giant with a black bag over its head which is so real he swears he could touch it…if he dared. t’s not just at night bad things are happening, either, or just to him. Shaken and unnerved, he opens up to a local witch. She can’t t discern the origins of his haunting, but she can provide him with a protective ward – a witch-bottle – if, in return, he will deliver her products on his rounds.

But not everyone’s happy to find people meddling with witch-bottles. Things are about to get very unpleasant…

What I thought…

It took me a few days to gather my thoughts on this book because it had such a strong impact on me. Tightly wound, gothic horror full of insane imagery and unforgettable characters sort of makes my world go round and this book had all of that and then some.

The writing is so strong. Often there would be a turn of phrase or description that chimed with me so much. Despite the misery, I really enjoyed it. While it’s never explicitly stated as such, I think reading this book was as close to a description of my own experience of living with depression as I’ve ever encountered before. It’s so visceral from the monotony of daily life to how futile everything feels, how difficult it is just to have interactions with other people and maintain relationships.

What Fletcher has done tremendously well is find the horror in the simplest of things. Nothing in this book feels safe. The atmosphere is bang on, the tension is so tightly wound you turn each page expecting and fearful of a snap. While gruesome and graphic at times I think it’s in the descriptions and building atmosphere that this book is at its strongest. So much of this book is going to stay with me for a long time. For a short book with some characters that we only meet for maybe a couple of paragraphs, all of them are memorable in their own way.

This is a book filled with stories within stories and tantalising threads that never twist in entirely the way you expect them to. There are so many themes to explore in this book I’m not sure where to even begin with all of them: folk horror and rural v city life, relationships, depression and mental health, family and community, the gig economy and society…and all of it handled deftly. It’s a brilliant book that I’m really glad to have read.

Thank you so much to the Jo Fletcher Books, Netgalley and Tom Fletcher for the #gifted e-copy in exchange for review.

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