r̵̢̲̟̦͔͂͠í̷͖́͊f̵̧̧̮͖͖̩̠̎̉͜͜t̶̜̊͛̃͝s̵̖̥̖͆́̒̀́̎͊̈͘͝ ̸̩̞̣̣̺͚̇̔͊͛̈́̃̌ͅi̸̡̢̨̛̺͍̬̰̹͈̮͌̑̑́̊̚n̸̰̥̞̍̈́̒ ̸̧̛̟̝̟͖̺̓ͅt̷̹̬͈̉͊̄ḩ̴̦͈͚̞͎̃͗̏̔́̕̕͠ę̶̀͆̐͐̈́̿̀ ̴̢̡̡̲̟̘̏̐̚f̴̨͈̳̼̣͉̱̫̬̏́̑̊̈́̚͜͝a̷̙͖͒̊̿͗̇b̴̧̙̥͍̪̦̟̟͖̈͝ͅr̸̨̭̹̦͔̙̪̬̦̐̅̿̾̅͌͑̉i̵͎͉̪̲̭̣͈͍̼͚̔̄̀̌̔͗̾c̵͕̦̼͎͗͑̅͒ ̴̫̟̼̗͓͗̂̈́̂̕͝o̵̝͖͗͐̓̾̽̀f̸̊͆̾̀͊́ͅ ̴̨̡͈͎̙̤̝͈͓̖̃̈̈́̓́̒̆̈̆r̴̡̤̞̻̘̯̈́͆͛̅́̽̋͆͘ę̷̟̥̪͖̞̣̮̒͗͛̆̃̿͐͘̚ă̶̢̢͙̲͉̯̫͈̭̊̾͐̍͒͝ͅl̴̢̠̲͉̤͇͍̫̀̚ị̶̗̻͓̪̮͙͔͒t̴̗̣͛͒̒͌̈́̎͂͑͝͝y̸͎͍̔̋̌̃̊́̓̈̓̈́
ċ̵̨̪͇̝̮͓̞͉͙̒̏͋̀ä̵͔̲̦́̒̿͆̆͂̽̓n̸̢͈̪̬̮̩͕̹̭͍͐͂̋̍̃̍̈́ ̵̢̨̘̺̭̙͙͚̬̤̍͑̓ỷ̷̡̙͓̤̖͖̊͛̅̐͋̂͠o̶͍͚̹̫͙͐̉̈͂u̶̮͙̠͚̯̭̥̘͌͗̔̏͝͝ ̷̢̢̱̖̞͙̿̃́̈́̓̀͆̊͘ͅs̷̢̨̱̯̙͖̳͒ë̷̟̤͕́́́̍͒̇ę̵̡̞̱͓̫͎̬̺̻̔́̓̓̅̓͌͂͝ ̶̹̪͖̼̹́͒̎̈́͒͠ṱ̴̰͙̏͌͂͒͒͗̌͑͝h̸̜̣̏̃̽͊̄̃̌͊̐͠ḛ̸̥̟̥̖̯͚̋m̶̨̧͙͕͂͐
t̸͈̟̪̠̹̏̇̑̉̽̚̚h̶̺̱̖͛͗̿e̷̱͊̐ỵ̸̳̺̺͈̘͍͈͋ ̶͓̬͎͇̙̠̯̙͆ä̶̢̞̟͇̾̕r̶̺̙͔͙͖̀͑͋́͆̚e̷̢̡͎̠̻̞͉̝̋̿̄͛ ̴̨̢̡̦̪͔̗̥̞̀͂͂͋̆͌̃͑͝c̶̡̨̬̝͕̯͖̲̻̚ơ̴̡̡̙͛͆̈́̑̇̉̄m̵̫̺͖̻͓̓i̸̡̜͕̙͖̫̦̗͙̋͂͜ņ̷̡̙̫͑̑́͂̌͗͌͝͝g̷̛̦̹̠̬̦̺̃͂͛̃̒̇
Slewfoot is one hell of a slow burn. Author Brom takes his time crafting this Pagan and Puritan mashup, dedicating the larger part of the book to its construction. Both seemingly incompatible worlds come crashing together with the meeting and burgeoning friendship between Samson, an old beast of the forest, and Abitha, a widow — making this story a lot less like the film The VVitch (which I was expecting) and more like a strange combination of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and Pan’s Labyrinth (which I was decidedly not expecting). (This also meant that I kept picturing the titular creature as played by Doug Jones, which only helped this tale.)
Although Brom’s writing is clear and serviceable — and the passion he has for this peculiar story is evident — this first half is somewhat of a slog to get through, the narrative insistent on pushing us through the muck and mire of convoluted lore and mythology before getting us to the action proper. The story doesn’t truly pick up until its third act, which begins with a heartrending and infuriating (and, from what I can gather, fairly accurate) depiction of a witch trial, and ends with a massacre. After spending so much time focusing on the ill treatment of Agitha, its main character, witnessing the struggle and slander being piled on top of her to an almost oppressive, stifling degree, the euphoric release she is ultimately afforded in the final few chapters feels entirely and utterly satisfying, and we can’t help but revel along with her.
A dark, undoubtedly bewitching tale. Slewfoot is full of haunting imagery* and harrowing historical horror. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
* Literally, in this case, as Brom is an accomplished artist and illustrator and as such fills his novel with stunning artwork. I only wish more pieces had been included.
One thought on “SLEWFOOT by Brom — 🎃”
I love Brom. There were several illustrations in Slewfoot that I would love to have as a print. Great review!