“Witches take their names from places, for places are what give them their strength.” So begins the story of the “Witch of Truro,” a chapter in the collection Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman. This is the type of book that brings satisfaction just by reading the first line of each story presented. A little magical, a little mystical, filled with myth and beauty and the kind of sentences that need to be read over and over. I cannot recommend this book enough, and I have persuaded many a reader to pick it up and devour it over a weekend. But this is the best time of year to read Blackbird House. With a crisp chill in the air and the leaves on the ground, a whisk of a chilling breeze and the warmth of a cup of tea, this book is the ultimate Fall experience. Blackbird House is an older publication, a slim volume of short stories that Alice Hoffman slipped in sometime after Practical Magic but before The Dovekeepers. The book revolves around a house on the edge of Cape Cod that we glimpse through the centuries. Interconnected by a place, the separate narratives take you into the lives of some very interesting folks who are just doing what we all do – live a life.
Alice Hoffman is best known for her engaging novels that spark a sense of magic and true storytelling. Yet they are all different enough to still surprise. Another Hoffman favorite of mine is Here on Earth, which can be viewed as a distant re-telling of the classic Wuthering Heights. This is also a beautiful book to read during these Fall months to inspire the season of secrets and shadows.
But with chapter titles like “Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair” and “The Wedding of Snow and Ice,” Hoffman’s collection will carry you across time for the sake of a good story with a stunning backdrop. Welcome to Blackbird House.