Recommended by the Horror Writers Association as one of the most influential novels ever written in the horror genre, Conjure Wife delivered. Written by Fritz Leiber in the early 1940’s, this is an urban fantasy classic, bringing together ritualistic magic and suburban America of the forties. This unique perspective on witchcraft as a gender specific practice is set within the politically-fraught college life. The protagonist, Norman Saylor, is professor of sociology at a distinguished college. Finding poppets from magic rituals amongst his wife, Tansy’s, belongings, he forces her to destroy them all. He believes his wife is delusional, and resists the notion of magic, even after it has caused him harm.
Norman Saylor is a realistic character, we feel for him as he clings to the reality and order that he knows. This is made more difficult for him as his career begins to take a nosedive, now unaided by his wife. As a successful professor, and now unprotected, Norman becomes the target of malicious magic, crafted by other Professor’s wives.
Presenting this world as exactly the same as what we know today, with one small, dark change, makes it easier to relate to and to understand, especially as we are taken through Norman’s logic and reasoning regarding the existence of real magic. He tries to use logic, even as he is wading through a curse that has been set upon him
“Thoughts are dangerous, he told himself, and thoughts against all science, all sanity, all civilized intelligence, are the most dangerous of all. He felt their presence here and there in his brain, like pockets of poison, harmless as long as you left them encysted and did not prick them.”
Norman and Tansy’s connection is sweet, making you root for them as they fight together against dark forces, a stone dragon, and a rare coven of witches out for power.
I recommend this book to any lover of urban fantasy, witches, and the supernatural.