Still grieving the loss of her beloved husband, Robyn Crowe decides to take a much-needed break and stays at her sister’s holiday home, Malan Cottage, located in a sleepy village on the English coast. But as is always the case in small villages, everyone knows each other, and it doesn’t take long for Robyn to find out that Malan Cottage was once the dwelling place of 2 witch sisters who were burned for their evil deeds. Following renovations on the cottage, one of the witches is accidentally released and she won’t rest until she is reunited with her sister.
I’m a simple girl. I see witches and the English coast in the description and I’m sold. The Malan Witch was a fun, short read with a great atmosphere and relatable protagonist.
The way Catherine Cavendish described the idyllic, coastal village really put me there. I could hear the waves and smell the sea salt-tinged air. This was one of my favourite things about the book.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the folklore aspect of the story. This is where the horror came in, but I wish there was a little bit more horror. While the author did create a spooky atmosphere with building dread, it failed to scare me. The backstory given about the witches and the lore was engrossing and actually, I’d love to have learned more about them and their evil deeds!
Robyn was very relatable, especially in the way she spoke and behaved, sometimes I’d hear myself when she said things like, “It’s probably that bloody bird, come back for another go.”, and I’d laugh. I think this was my absolute favourite thing about the novella. Her relationship with her sister mirrored mine with my brothers. The way they interacted on the phone, joked with each other and supported each other. It felt very real and very personal to me.
I also liked that, although Robyn was grieving, she wasn’t portrayed as this widowed woman feeling sorry for herself, unable to get out of bed and help herself. She needed a break to process her feelings, but as soon as danger hit, she showed her wit and strength and never succumbed to this witch and her menacing ways.
Overall, I enjoyed this entertaining little story. I’d have liked a bit more backstory on the witches for that extra fear factor, and maybe a bit more about Robyn’s relationship with her husband (I love my horror with a side of grief and despair), but if you’re looking for a cosy horror tale with a great atmosphere and relatable protagonist, I definitely recommend The Malan Witch. I’ll certainly be reading more from Catherine Cavendish.