The Factory Witches of Lowell is a short historical fantasy by C.S. Malerich. Released 10th Nov 2020 by Macmillan on their Tor/Forge imprint, it's 144 pages and available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats.
I really liked the premise of the book - fictionalized history with a magic twist. There's a f/f romance subplot, some young mill-worker witches striking for better working conditions, and a well written and engaging character driven narrative. The characterizations were well done and I found them both sympathetic and understandable.
I'm not sure precisely who this book's intended audience should be. It felt a lot to me like a young adult novella, but if so, there's a fair bit of graphic racism and sexism whose treatment I felt was problematic and tone deaf. It wasn't so much the historical reality of the time (where there was obviously rampant sexism and racism), it was actually the author's treatment of the subjects and the actual objectification of people of color and women that I found fairly repugnant. I will say, however, that the author is a gifted wordsmith and the plotting and narrative arc and writing were exceptional - so I've no doubt whatsoever that the objectification and vile manner of equating beaten and enslaved humans to beasts was 100% intentional. I'm just not sure if that makes it better or worse.
This is an interesting and engaging novella. I enjoyed it, and the romance subplot was gently and sweetly written. I found parts of it troubling and difficult to read.
Three and a half stars.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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