Author: A. Rose Pritchett
Narrator: Melanie Huesz
Length: 6 hours and 7 minutes
Publisher: A. Rose Pritchett
Released: June 11, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction; Young Adult
Boston, 1846. Eighteen-year-old Mildred Parish, a barber’s daughter, practices practical witchcraft using locks of hair obtained from her father’s customers. She’s very selective about who knows her secret and the kinds of spells she casts. Only people she trusts can know, and she must never cast a spell to harm another person.
One of her father’s clients is Theodore O’Brian, an Irish immigrant whose family is fortunate enough to be wealthy. Mildred is head over heels in love with him, but he’s destined to be with someone else. One day, a woman named Trinity Hartell comes knocking on Mildred’s door. She has a vendetta against an entire family and wants Mildred to cast a death spell on them. The family? The O’Brians, including Theodore. Mildred refuses, but Trinity is set on getting what she wants, one way or another.
Mildred now feels she must protect the O’Brian family and the man she loves, but she must also protect herself. How can she make sure Trinity is stopped without telling the entire city of Boston that she’s a witch?
Rose Pritchett’s writing career started in kindergarten when she daydreamed about being a fairy princess instead of learning subtraction. Her childhood obsession with American Girl turned her into an avid history lover.
At seventeen, she moved from her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, to Savannah, Georgia, where she earned her BA in writing with a history minor from Georgia Southern University. She continues to live in Savannah, still daydreaming about princesses wearing gorgeous dresses. A LOCK OF HAIR is her debut novel.
Melanie Huesz is new to audiobook production and narration, but not new to performing. She has an MFA in acting and was a graduate fellow at the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger. Before moving from the stage to the classroom, her acting roles included ingenues, leading ladies, and character roles.
As a middle school teacher and an avid audiobook listener with more than 300 books in her audio library, Melanie has seen the power of bringing books to life in her classroom and was inspired to return to performing through narration. Drawn to the world of YA, she has spent the summer recording three new novels aimed at young adults.
Author A. Rose Pritchett’s Top Ten Reasons to Hear A Lock of Hair
- There’s a dog. Need I say more?
- It’s full of snarky humor. Especially from Mary, the peppery Irish girl.
- The story is about a Christian witch, written by an actual Christian witch. I used my personal experiences growing up in the Bible Belt with an interest in witchcraft and my knowledge of the practice at the time I wrote the first draft.
- The narrator is talented at conveying each character’s unique voice, and there are a wide range of characters from a variety of backgrounds.
- There’s disability representation. Roger has Down Syndrome, though for accuracy’s sake, it’s not mentioned in the actual story because the condition wasn’t named until later in the 19th century.
- It recognizes that there was racism, sexism, and ableism in a period that is often over-romanticized.
- There’s a focus on Irish-American history. Even though there’s a lot of controversy over how it should be discussed in comparison to African-American history, it still shouldn’t be ignored. Growing up, I had an overly-simplified version of my own history where things were bad in Europe, so they immigrated to America and things got better, not really knowing that white Americans discriminated against each other, as well. Meanwhile, even as a child, black history was never sugar-coated or simplified.
- The main character doesn’t scoff at feminine things, but is still strong. When I was about 15, a trend started in YA literature where the female leads had more masculine traits and hated things such as pretty dresses, for example. Those characters were seen as strong, independent role models for young women, while the more feminine characters were put in the supporting role. As someone who loves everything to do with pink and princesses and glitter, I had trouble calling myself a feminist because of this.
- It’s pacifist. Mildred’s main rule is to not purposefully harm others, which is something I value personally. While many stories focus on killing the bad guy, mine focuses on how to combat violence in a non-violent manner.
- By listening to this book, you’re supporting a disabled author. With the disability I have, finding a job that I can do is hard, so I cannot say how much I appreciate each and every single reader.
A group of sailors came into my father’s shop for a shave before they went off to sea. I wasn’t asked to perform a protection spell on them, but I did it a a way to do good for them. As usual with his seafaring patrons, I acquired their hair left behind in the shop and put it in an abalone shell with an aquamarine stone. At the edge of the bay, away from most other people, I lowered the shell in the water, letting the waves carry away the men’s essences as I said an internal prayer. The aquamarine was supposed to make the ocean happy. Though witches traditionally gave it as an offspring, the stone was too precious for a barber’s daughter to afford more than one, so the sea had to settle for the caress of it every time I casted this spell. So far, it has treated every single one of those sailors kindly. Growing up, my mother taught me many spells using hair from my father’s customers. Once you obtain someone’s essence, whether it be their hair, blood, or fingernails, you have power over that person.
What is a lock of hair to you and I? Is it simply something that gets lobbed off every so often when we go to the salon? It provides you with a sense of self? Some women and men focus a lot of attention on their hair, but others may think it quite trivial. Think about it. It is so much more than that. It can have your DNA. It can be so powerful that someone can use your hair to incriminate you in a crime. Why wouldn’t witches be able to use it for their spells too, right? Pritchett has a riveting story with a dash of history, a pinch of witchcraft and a thread of mystery. Most importantly, this story is about hope, a hope that the world’s biases can be overcome through knowledge and faith.
Mildrid, AKA Millie, is a witch practitioner. She is also the daughter of a barber, the friend of an Irish Protestant girl, and a devout Christian. After agreeing to take on Mary as an apprentice, a woman comes to her requesting her help with a death spell on the O’Briens, wanting nothing more than vengeance on the family who evicted her loved ones when they needed kindness the most. Millie is desperate to keep her secret safe, but not at the cost of committing harm on others to do so. Declining this woman’s request can do two things: she could expose Millie as a witch to the community or she could take her revenge on the O’Briens herself. And that means, she would be trying to murder the love of her life, Theodore O’Brien. In a ditch effort to help the O’Briens have a fighting chance over what is to come, she warns Theodore and casts a protection spell. When Theodore’s mother and fiance fall ill at a dinner party, Millie is faced with a predicament of her own. She can either tell the detective about her witchcraft and the woman who wanted revenge on the O’Briens or she can hold her tongue. Outing herself as a witch could bring about an end to her life as she knows it once the community finds out, but doing the right thing has always been a part of her.
Pritchett’s story is captivating and original. With a little history in the background, the characters and the situations these characters face are completely credible and readers will find they can relate to them. The characters are all entertaining and expose vulnerability along with strength and bravado. Huesz brought the story to life in an exuberant way, showcasing each character and their methods of working through hardships. This narrator enhanced Pritchett’s story in every way. From listening to the audiobook alone, it does not appear the narrator had any trouble with pronunciation or pace of the context. This is a sensational team and it really shows both are passionate about what they do, writing and narration. If you are a reader of historical and young adult fiction, this may be a good fit for you. There is a warning in the front of the book regarding some of the biases and prejudices faced in Massachusetts and the South during the time period the story takes place.
The audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a five-star rating for A Lock of Hair by A. Rose Pritchett.
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