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Warriors, Witches, Women

Warriors, Witches, Women

Kate Hodges, illus Harriet Lee Merrion
White Lion Publishing
ISBN: 9781781319260

Warriors Witches Women is a formidable book. Grouped into sections and then into individual women, it can be dipped into for a quick read or savoured and devoured at length. The book gives a new take and understanding on old myths, legends and stories of strong women, goddesses and supernatural females. It explains individually how each female's story began: was adapted down the ages and how this affected the real lives of women and their place in society.

It is interesting to see how the stories were often changed by men. One such striking example is Hecate who was demonised from a 'generous spirit' and 'glorious goddess' into the Queen of Hell. It is suggested this was due to her influence on women and indeed, throughout the book, we are told of the way these stories have been used to subjugate, instruct or influence women and society's view of women.

Often the stories carried a meaning such as helping grieving mothers or instructing women on how to be domesticated. More often the stories portray strong, independent, intelligent women who are altered when their influence becomes too strong. The author relates these stories to modern day events and also recounts how history was influenced by them.

There are sexual references throughout, including rape, but they are dealt with succinctly and are not gratuitous, but may need consideration for younger readers. Although this would naturally be a book that would seem to appeal to girls, I would suggest that this should be read by all genders. It clearly sets out the manipulation of facts in a patriarchal society which has never been more apt than today.

The stories could easily be used in history, English, art and PHSE lessons - and isn't it about time that boys were taught about the problems women have, and still face, in the call for equality? Throughout the book each story is accompanied by striking, vibrant illustrations that mesmerise and add to the book's allure. Always a highlight, illustrations grab the readers attention and can often entice the reluctant reader.

Due to the short piece on each woman, this is ideal for quick bursts of reading. It's a brilliant book for showing women as independent and determined and is highly recommended - it will be devoured by students. I found that once started I couldn't put it down and that is always the sign of an excellent book.

224 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, librarian


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