Title: The Malan Witch
Author: Catherine Cavendish
Publisher: Silver Shamrock Publishing
Publication Date: August 18, 2020
Shelves: Female-author, female-fronted
Urban legends, a legacy of evil, witchcraft, an incestuous small town, and a family of naive outsiders. Stir it all together in a cast iron cauldron, stoke the flames with a cursed poppet (doll), and turn the lights down low because Catherine Cavendish, Mistress of horror, has a tale to tell . . . and it’s fantastic.
Few genres seem to lend themselves as well to the novella length as horror does, and The Malan Witch is a prime example. There’s some wonderful atmosphere building and necessary background at the start but, beyond that, it’s nonstop heart-pounding horror from beginning to end. There are two unusual pauses, including one jarring moment that will leave you wondering if you’ve missed something, but it’s all in service to the thrills and chills. We’re never so vulnerable as when we’ve let our guard down.
This is a supernatural tale of pure, unrelenting evil. It’s a story of dark possession and even darker confrontation, one that’s full of murderous crows, the inexplicable stench of death, moving shadows, and terrifyingly violent forces. There’s never any question regarding the dead witches behind it all, but there are some nice twists and moments of doubt regarding the living souls who are supposed to be helping. That layer of doubt is what makes the final act of the story so chilling, especially when then there’s so much at stake (no pun intended – the witches were burned on crosses, not stakes).
The Malan Witch ends strong with an explosive climax that’s worthy of the story leading up to it, and then doubles down on the horror and the dread by teasing the lingering taint of evil in the last place we’d wish to find it. Another extraordinary slice of horror from Catherine Cavendish.
Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀
My sincere thanks to the author for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.