Seven Dead Sisters by Jen Williams
PS Publishing / Absinthe Books | Hardback | £18
Review by Lottie Lightfoot
Seven Dead Sisters is a delightfully dreadful tale that has filed itself under the genre I have mentally dubbed “Good For Her” a la Lucille Bluth.
It’s set in the wild, untameable, and unknown backdrop of 1600s New England, and we discover Alizon Grey – a woman who has barely been tried and is currently on her way to her execution via burning for being accused of being a witch. Her crime? Murdering her father.
Alizon herself is just as wild and untameable as the landscape we find her in. Penned in and caged, she still tries to make a break for it and is treated warily and with disdain by the men who hold her captive. While the trial may be an open and shut case–she really did kill her father–it’s hard not to get angry and the pure unjustness of how Alizon found herself there.
An unknown and brutal force kills her captors and damages the cart where she’s held captive, allowing her to make a run for it. From there, it’s a race against time to reach safety as she traverses wild animals, talking corpses, forest fires, and some invisible, deadly force that is never too far behind.
The characterisation is slow and thoughtful. You feel for each of the sisters, and you feel for Alizon as she slowly but surely watches as her family tribe dwindles away until she’s the last one standing. Then it starts to get weird. The twist genuinely took me by surprise. The hints were subtle, and it was only during the second and third read-through did I begin to notice them.
Overall, Jen Williams’ story is a stunningly haunted tale that instils anger, fear, and humour in an atmospheric tale that leaves you with conflicting emotions long after you’ve put it down.