Extasia / Claire Legrand / Book Review


Amity, Mercy, Temperance, Silence: these four saints keep the village safe.

As the daughter of a village Elder, soon-to-be Amity Barrow can't wait to step into her new role, to take the sins of the community on herself and keep the dark world at bay. And she's got to step up soon, to stop whatever has been ripping men to shreds in the forest and leaving their bodies out for the crows.

But on the day of her sainthood ceremony, Amity sees something she shouldn't: two of the saints conspiring and... kissing. There are murmurs of witchcraft and real magic, and with her mother already a disgrace, Amity knows she should tell the Elders what she saw. Yet something stops her, a new path opening before her--a new option to save her community. If she's strong enough, can she walk among the witches to save her people from their master, the Devil himself?



It's a hard no from me. I found this book distasteful on many levels. That's not because I didn't like the ideas here, but the execution was way off. It was hard to get through this book and not for the right reasons--not for the horror of it, being a horror novel. I was too often outright disgusted and not in any way the author intended.


Future Witches It's a post-apocalyptic world full of cultists and actual witches. What's not to love about that? Stories of persecuted witches, whether historically accurate or ones that delve into a realm of revenge fantasy, are perennially popular, part of our collective Western consciousness. Here, Claire Legrand lends a new bent to this timeless sort of tale. After the collapse of civilization, these ladies must once against fight against the bonds that would keep their power contained. And that's fun, if a tad bit depressing.

Whimsical Witchcraft The realm of Avazel and its extasia--a.k.a. magic--are bright and fun. The whimsy of watching flowers unfold and glittering gowns get spun from thin air can't be beat. It's another nod toward our collective imagination, the types of things all children fantasize about--simple magic, the impossible and the beautiful. This in-book magic world is woven from the stories we've all heard and would love to hear again.

Devilish Twist Of all the reasons to join a witch coven, hunting the devil himself may not be top of the list. But that's exactly what drives Amity here, in the midst of her post-apocalyptic world. And having the intangible sort of pure evil that is the Devil be stark and present in a post-apocalyptic setting is unsettling and chilling. It gives a whole new dimension to the end-of-our-known-world setting we all know so well.


I really, really hate the convention of using "thee" and "thy" in religious settings to connote that it is, you know, a religious setting. This religious cult arose in the future supposedly, right? So why have we brought our language back to the days of Shakespeare? There has been a LOT of church history in the past four hundred years, and I assume there will be even more if we're talking some post-apocalyptic future. So let's take our religious inspiration elsewhere for once, mmkay? Old-Timey Religious Words

Look, if the word "masturbation" makes you squirm, skip this critique. And then skip this book entirely. This critique is going to get a bit spoiler-y. I don't usually like to do that, but I have to write about this. And to be fair, it really doesn't involve the main plot at all. The incident that I'm talking about happens fairly early on. And just... you've been warned. So, my problem here isn't that Legrand discusses masturbation. My problem is that Amity's sister masturbates in their shared bedroom (ew), and she has been doing this for months. Amity is aware of this. Amity has been present while this is happening, and she just... lets it continue? How gross and weird is that? It's... major ew. Let your sister know you know what she's doing and that you would, you know, like it to not continue while you are in the room with her... Because it is just pervy if you don't say anything and let it go on and on and on. And then, even more weirdly, having pages where you think about your sister, wonder what she thinks about, and just really ruminate on the whole situation for so long... You should really just not do that. Ever. It's gross and weird. Airing Dirty Laundry

This plot and these characters are very, very exaggerated. They lack any sort of nuance. Not that you can't do this sort of religiously-oppressed-post-apocalypse well. Kim Liggett's The Grace Year pulls it off beautifully--without ultimately disparaging all of male-kind. And the horrors of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale are visceral but never include a blanket judgement either. When the witches have names like "Furor," "Malice," and "Rage," you know this book is really all about revenge against men. Even the religious trauma described here seemed more like a twisted, sadistic, "feminist"-revenge-provoking sort of daydream than anything that would actually happen. This book might hint at a need to fight against the patriarchy but is really just an angry rant against a bunch of strawmen. And there's nothing really feminist about that. Angry Feminists



Those who enjoyed Kim Liggett's The Grace Year will like this new group of witches in the woods. Fans of Alix E. Harrow's The Once and Future Witches will appreciate this new cast of women wielding real magic.


Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date: February 22, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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