Review: Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery by Brom

cover of Slewfoot by BromSlewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery by Brom
Tor Nightfire (September 14, 2021)
320 pages; hardcover $25.49; paperback $14.99; e-book $14.99
Reviewed by Janelle Janson

If you’re anything like me, then you have only dipped into Brom’s world with Krampus, an iconic story written by the artistically talented Brom that we revisit every Christmas. I’ll admit Krampus wasn’t exactly my favorite book, but Brom’s style and aesthetic polish made it an enjoyable reading experience. In Slewfoot, it’s not just Brom’s brilliant artistry, but also the plot, his immersive writing style, and his magical mind that drew me in.

How do I put this gently? Slewfoot is bleak. It’s bleakness inside of pain, submerged in darkness, inside of a grey-colored moon. How’s that for bleak? I enjoy bleak when it’s executed well, and Slewfoot is executed perfectly.

Now, Brom’s storytelling style doesn’t generally work for a speed reader like me. What I mean is, you just cannot skim this, not that you’d want to. To have the full experience, you must take your time reading the paragraphs and taking in all of the two-dozen-plus paintings Brom created for this witchy tale. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, it’s still an experience and worth it to own a copy of the book.

Full disclosure: I first read this book on my eReader and browsed through the sample paper copy Tor Nightfire sent me. The sample was great because I got a taste of how beautiful Brom’s paintings are. It was on a small scale, yes, but seeing the art in living color took my breath away. Of course, I immediately preordered a copy.

I recently read on Shelf Awareness that Brom has always been fascinated by the dark soul. I thought, wow, there’s an interesting person I could talk with for hours. He went on to say, “It was while watching a documentary on the Salem witch trials that I kept thinking, Now what would it be like if those accused of witchcraft were really witches, if the Devil was their ally, what havoc would ensue? And the tale of Slewfoot was born.” I believe this quote alone is reason enough to hop on the dark soul express and read this story.

Slewfoot is a dark, devastating tale that takes place in 1666 New England, in a small Puritan village. An ancient malevolent force awakens in the haunting woods and the villagers are fearful of what awaits them. Abitha comes from a long line of cunning folk and bewitchery herself. When her husband mysteriously disappears, she sees a figure who is a half-human and half-horned beast. She becomes enamored with the man-beast and since his true identity is unknown, she names him Samson. Who is Samson? Is he a protector or slayer? Is he virtuous or monstrous? Is he the devil himself?

Abitha is a wonderfully strong and resilient female character. She’s the kind of witch I would want to be friends with. She rises above the expectations and the danger that comes with living in a Puritan society. And even though she does make friends with a demon, it somehow turns out righteous and beautiful.  The relationship dynamic between Abitha and Samson is everything, and they are both in the depths of my soul forever. Brom is a visceral writer who brilliantly feeds the imagination with vivid scenery, folklore, and mysticism. The accuracy of the historical details are astounding, and Brom doesn’t skimp on the bloodshed and gore either.

Slewfoot is an extraordinary, harrowing tale about a remarkable friendship and a demon trying to find his soul. It’s a journey of witchcraft, misogyny, paganism, and piety. It left me spellbound and my tortured black heart devoured this story looking for more.

Hi, my name is Janelle! I am a voracious reader, freelance writer, and reviewer. Currently, I write for Tor Nightfire and Cemetery Dance. I enjoy reading books from all types of genres, however, I do have my favorites. My first and forever true loves are horror, thriller, and true crime. I read my first Stephen King book at age seven and I’ve never looked back. In addition to books, I enjoy art, coffee, and all things animals. I am a firm believer that animals are better than people and deserve this planet more than we do. I am a true crime sleuth and a dilettante puzzle solver. I currently reside in Northern California with my husband, two kittens, and an oversized puppy.

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