Review: Conjure Wife

Conjure Wife
Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s a lot to recommend this story of a man who learns his wife has a bit of a witchcraft habit. The writing style is clean and admirable, and the story moves at a decent clip. Whether Tansy Saylor, the wife of skeptical college professor Norman, is actually a witch or is instead one among a group of similarly deranged women is left to the reader to decide. Either way, in order to save her, Norman must often act as if the magic were real. I personally found the restraint required for such a balancing act to work a little tired by the twentieth chapter, but I often found myself really enjoying the chapters which attempted to place witchcraft in a more scientific context.

While I liked Norman and Tansy well enough, the book as a whole feels thin to me and a little too old-fashioned. I enjoyed its realism and its delicate touch, but often I found the other characters flat and not very compelling. It was difficult, for example, to tell the other wives apart, and even more difficult to remember the characteristics of their clueless husbands.

Still, there are some scenes that were very good–enough so that I’m glad I read this book. It was a pleasant enough diversion, and parts of it were still pretty inspiring.

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