Book review: Bewitching tale of magical realism exposes paradox of ‘witcherature’

In her spellbinding novel based on the Norwegian witch trials of the 1660s, Anya Bergman holds up a mirror to our present patriarchal society

Anya Bergman: Beneath the surface of The Witches of VardØ bubbles a potent feminist text. Picture: Lizzie McGhee

Writing in The Guardian recently, Anya Bergman predicted that 2023 will be the season of the witch, when “witcherature” will “truly cast its spell”. So far the magic seems to be working, with her new novel The Witches of VardØ generating acres of advance coverage.

Does it justify the hype? To some extent, yes. Dark and brooding, brimming with menace and written in a kind of magical realist delirium that threatens to overpower the senses, ...