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Publisher's Summary

The beloved best-selling author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure is back with her most beguiling novel yet, luring us deep inside the lives of a trio of remarkable young women navigating the glitz and grotesqueries of Gilded-Age New York by any means possible, including witchcraft....

The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (Moth from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it's finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and gardien de sorts (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan's high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions - and in guarding the secrets of their clients. All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment.

Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor's apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic, or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches' tug-of-war over what's best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force. 

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they're confronted by accusations and specters from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined, and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?

©2017 Ami McKay (P)2021 Vintage Canada

What the critics say

Shortlisted for the 2017 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

Shortlisted for the 2017 Sunburst Award in Adult Fiction 

“Old New York shows its magic and its darkness in McKay’s latest novel.... [A] remarkable cast of characters.... McKay has crafted a stunning work that bridges the gap between historical and contemporary women's issues. The novel is ambitious in its scope yet still delves deep into the thoughts and motivations of characters who normally exist on society's outskirts - or even beyond the earthly realm.... McKay's elegant prose bridges the gap between the real world and the spiritual realm with skill and compassion. A sprawling tale of persecution and hysteria set in the vivid world of New York City’s Victorian era.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 

“Wonderful novel.... McKay seamlessly combines several plots and juggles a large cast with grace. Skillful worldbuilding, fascinating characters, and a suspenseful plot make McKay’s novel an enchanting, can’t-put-down delight. The door is left open for a sequel, and readers will hope McKay takes Adelaide, Eleanor, and Beatrice on further adventures of witchery and self-determination.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)  

“[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)

What listeners say about The Witches of New York

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Pretty Good

Witch books aren't typically my thing, but I enjoyed this book. As always, Julian Whelan is an excellent narrator, and the narrative itself is rich and engaging with strong character development. Not the best thing ever (it also have undertones of white feminism that's meh), but happy to have read/listened to it.