Hello my lovelies! I hope January and the new year has been treating you absolutely fabulously. For me, it’s not been a very great year so far, but lets start by turning that around right now!
A few months ago I reviewed the fabulous The Witch’s Kiss by the even more amazing sisters, Katharine and Elizabeth Corr. As a thank you, they sent me a signed paperback of the book, for which I am eternally grateful. Well … now they’re back with an amazing sequel to the first book, and I could not be be more thrilled.
Now I’m thrilled to announce that they are currently blog touring – and the next stop is here!
That’s right! The long-awaited sequel to The Witch’s Kiss is being released and the two authors have written a lovely little post for you guys! I highly advise you to read this series, because while I have little interest in the whole fantasy genre, these books have turned that around for me!
I’d like to give a big shout-out to Andrew @ The Pewter Wolf who kicked off this tour and who I had the pleasure of meeting at an HarperCollins event in London. You can go and read his post here!
Now, over to these wonderful ladies who are here today to discuss:
Witch vs Wizard: gender in magical worlds
One of the things we wanted to do in The Witch’s Tears was to explore in more detail the magical background of Merry’s world; in particular, the relationship between witches and wizards. In the most well-known modern fantasy – Harry Potter – ‘witch’ and ‘wizard’ are simply gendered words used to refer to practitioners of magic. Witches are girls and wizards are boys, but there’s no difference in what they do or how they are taught. However, there are other magical worlds where that isn’t the case.
In Le Morte D’Arthur, for example, Merlin (a wizard) is Arthur’s trusted adviser, even though not all his ideas are especially brilliant. Morgan le Fay, a witch, spends most of her time trying to disrupt Arthur’s court, destroy Guinevere and get Lancelot into bed. Some modern depictions of the King Arthur story have stuck with this contrast.
Meanwhile, over in Narnia, witches get a similarly bad press compared to wizards. In The Voyage of The Dawn Treader, Coriakin (a wizard and former star) is shown as a wise ruler of the Dufflepuds. Andrew Ketterley (the would-be magician in The Magician’s Nephew) starts the book obnoxious and selfish, but ends up a reformed character. In contrast, the two witches of the Narnian world – Jadis, the White Witch from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and The Lady of the Green Kirtle, from The Silver Chair – are evil through and through.
Shakespeare also seems to prefer wizards. Compare Prospero in The Tempest – devoted father, forgiving brother and educated seeker after the eternal mysteries – to the three witches in Macbeth: ‘secret, black and midnight hags.’
None of this is particularly surprising. There was no female equivalent of John Dee, Elizabeth I’s astrological adviser and researcher into the occult. A small percentage of the victims of the seventeenth century witch hunts were men, but they were put on trial and condemned as witches, not wizards.
So, against this background, the witches and wizards in Merry’s world are not friends. With a few exceptions, witches don’t trust wizards. Wizards look down on witches. And a darker past is hinted at. After all, Merry and the other coven members live in a facsimile of the real world, with all its antagonisms around gender, race and class. Why would magical society be any different? Merry has to deal with two strangers in The Witch’s Tears, both claiming to be wizards, both asking her and Leo to trust them. How does that turn out? You’ll have to read the book….