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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Double Book Review: Cackle By Rachel Harrison

By Rachel Harrison
October 5, 2021
Publisher: Berkeley
ISBN: 9780593202029
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?

Reviewer: Pamela K. Kinney
I gave Cackle 5 sheep.
Annie takes a teaching position in a town in upstate New York. Before she leaves, she goes out for a night on the town with a friend. Both go to a psychic who reads her friend’s fortune, but she won’t do it for Annie. A foreshadowing? 

Annie moves into her rented apartment in a quaint little village near where she will be working. The place is nice, although she has a spider infestation. She meets Sophie, whom others living in the village seem afraid of, but Annie finds herself drawn to the beautiful and magnetic woman. She lives in a fairytale-ish mansion in the woods, appears ageless, and seems to have a sort of power.

A feminist, dark fairytale that bewitches the reader. Supernatural horror that draws you in until you can’t put it down until you realize you finished the story. Rachel Harrison has turned the vampire story on its ear with The Return, and I think she will have readers rethinking this witchy tale differently than they have known before.

ReviewerMidu Reads*
2.5 peacefully grazing sheep
When she breaks up with her long-time best friend and recently bf, a woman moves to a small town and accepts a dead-end job to get away. Little does she know what future--and that town--has in store for her! Once there, she strikes a friendship almost immediately with the woman who owns most of the town. But that still wouldn't explain the almost fear-like obeisance she inspires in the rest of the townspeople. Unraveling that mystery helps our heroine understand herself a little better.

So, the pluses:
1. A woman comes into her own. She stops apologizing for who she is, being patient with assholes, and finds her inner witch. Yaay!

Now, the minuses:
1. The meat of the story isn't juicy enough to be extended into a 300-pager. I would have appreciated something deeper and darker coming out about the friend's past or something. 

2. The protagonist really got on my nerves. Yes, I get that she had to undergo a drastic transformation, but did she have to be such a doormat? Ugh!

3. Spooky? Maybe parts of it, but as a whole, nope.

4. The bf showing his true colors. I mean, really? If they'd been BFFs before becoming a couple, she should have caught on to his true nature. Or, did the author just 

And, finally, the spiders:
1. Since there were so many of them, they deserve their own category. I'm squicked out by them IRL, but I didn't mind them being in the book so much. However, if arachnophobia is your thing, then give this one a wide berth.

So, Cackle might not be a Halloween-worthy read, but it is still a fun one.

*Most of my go-to series are 3 starrers
No rating - wasn't my genre/dnf'd so rating it would be unfair
1 sheep - won't be picking up another book in a series again
2 sheep - average read with overused tropes and cliches. Will give the author another try/only continuing because of OCD, so must finish a series
2.5 sheep - liked the book but was put off because it was overly long/ill-treatment of a character the author had me invest in and so on.
3 sheep - enjoyed the book but have reservations because I expected to be wowed and wasn't
4 sheep - was unputdownable
5 sheep - formed an emotional connection, will read the heck outta this series

About the Author:
Rachel Harrison is the author of the forthcoming novel CACKLE. Her debut, THE RETURN, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Her short fiction has appeared in Guernica, Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, and as an Audible Original. She lives in Western New York with her husband and their cat/overlord.

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