Review: ‘The Coven’ Lizzie Fry

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

Despite the fact that it took me over two weeks to read from start to finish, I really enjoyed The Coven. It’s a dystopian novel set in the present day and there are disturbing parallels between the world in which it takes place and the world in which it was published.

Sure, there’s magic and witchcraft in it, but there are elements that are grounded in our reality, elements that mirror events that have taken place – in the US especially – over the last four or five years. When Michael Hopkins is sworn in as president, he immediately starts acting on his misogyny and enforcing laws that strip witches of their rights and autonomy. In a nutshell, he and his followers are small, feeble-minded individuals who feel threatened by women and their power and potential. Sound familiar? No? Well, the fact that Hopkins became president in 2016 should give you a clue as to the identity of the person who obviously inspired his character. When Trump was sworn in as president in 2016, he and his administration immediately set about undoing the progress that had been made in terms of women’s rights over the last few decades. He reinstated the Global Gag Rule, “a law that requires foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance to certify that they do not use U.S. funds to provide abortions, counsel patients about abortion, or advocate for abortion laws.” In June 2020, his administration announced that it would be stripping transgender people of their healthcare protections, meaning that their healthcare provider could refuse them services based on their gender identity. According to the Human Rights Campaign, transgender women of colour disproportionately experience violence, homelessness and unemployment and the decision to allow healthcare providers to discriminate against them posed more risk to their safety. These are but two examples of the detrimental impact that the Trump administration had on women’s rights. Thankfully, Biden reversed these rulings when he entered office, but there’s still a long way to go in fixing the damage caused by Trump.

As previously stated, Hopkins, like his real life counterpart, introduces laws that are detrimental to women’s rights and take away their rights and autonomy. For me, the parallels between Trump and Hopkins are clear.

The Coven isn’t just about the damage that men like this can do, though. It’s also about the power of people when they unite together and fight back. There’s plenty of loss and heartache in The Coven, but it’s also uplifting in the sense that it shows readers the monumental change that people are capable of bringing about when they work together and speak out against injustices.

On a final note, if you’ve read the book, how awesome was that final battle? I don’t describe many things as epic, but that scene was probably one of the most epic things that I’ve ever read.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of dystopian fiction, I can’t recommend The Coven enough.

Want to read The Coven? Head on over Hive, World of Books or Bookshop to order your copy, or buy it through your local bookstore.

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