Witches of Lychford
by Paul Cornell
Traveller, Cleric, Witch.
The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.
Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth — that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination.
But if she is to have her voice heard, she’s going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies…
It’s clear from every set of SFF book awards with a novella category that Tor are at the top of their novella game right now. The big fan of witches that I am, Witches of Lychford has been on my TBR for a while.
Set in the fictional rural town of Lychford in the Cotswolds (a very real area in England), Witches of Lychford follows three women who must try and stop the development of a new supermarket in their town that threatens to destroy the borders between this world and another, much more dangerous one. As I currently live very close to the Cotswolds, I thought this novella would be perfect October reading for me.
I love the premise of this novella, but for me the content didn’t quite live up to that premise.
This is a quiet novella, the kind of fantasy where more attention is paid to what’s ordinary than to what’s extraordinary, and I love fantasy stories like that. I love stories about little rural towns where everyone knows everyone, especially the kind of rural towns that are fighting to keep their individuality amidst the growth of capitalism, but Witches of Lychford just didn’t do it for me.
Unfortunately I didn’t get along with the writing style and I don’t think I got to know any of the three women enough to want to know more about them in the subsequent novellas. This is a real shame because one of the three women is a pastor and I’m fascinated by characters who work closely with faith, especially in SFF when there’s a chance for discussions regarding faith vs. magic, but this novella never made me feel anything and, ultimately, I was underwhelmed.
There’s the potential for a brilliant novella here, but I’m sad to say it’s not the novella I read.