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  • Power in Numbers

    The Factory Witches of Lowell is a short novel with a big message. The setting is Boston. The reader isn't given the year but can assume that it takes place in a time before electricity. The reason for this assumption is because the factory the witches/mill girls are working in is a textile mill that is run off of hydropower. From the very beginning of the story the reader is immersed in the deplorable conditions of early factory workers in industrial America. These workers are actually young girls that are living away from their families in boarding houses. The girls whole lives are spent working the mills in order to pay for their board and meals and any money left over is sent home to their starving families. The girls are required to work more than one loom at a time sometimes up to four per person in order to increase the profits for the men they are working for. The girls often times develop what they refer to as the "kiss of death" from the amount of cotton fiber they ingest into their lungs by threading the shuttle for the looms. C.S. Malerich does a wonderful job immersing the reader in the horrible day to day lives these poor girls lead. Her main characters are Judith and Hannah. Judith is the "bulldog" of the group and the voice for the rights of the girls of the mill and Hannah is the witch with the magical words to invoke the spells the girls use. The reader finds out early on that the girls working the looms have magical powers and even dabble in a little witchcraft. Being that the mill girls live in boarding houses together they have time to talk after work about how horrible their work environments are and how unfair their treatment is compared to other occupations and genders. The girls hatch a plan to start a union called the Factory Girls' Union of Lowell. The plan starts at one mill but soon spreads to include all the mills in the town. Unanimously the girls decide to strike in order to get their working conditions and wages changed, but as most everyone knows a strike is not effective unless every worker in the strike adheres to not returning to work until all of the demands are met. Unfortunately, one of the girls in the story breaks the spell/strike to start work again because of her poverty stricken family, which causes a bit of chaos, disrupting the spell/strike. I greatly enjoyed this novel. The characters and plot were so original. I honestly have never read a fictional story based on the early Industrial Revolution. I think C.S. Malerich did a great job helping the reader understand the horrible conditions the early workers in our country lived and worked through. In all honesty C.S. Malerich's characters may be fictional but they are the definition of what a union does for employees by creating safe, fair waged work environments for all employees without discrimination. The sprinkles of witchcraft help to keep the story interesting. This story left me with the inspirational feeling that there is power in numbers as long as we can ban together for the greater good for all.

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  • Interesting concept but didn't love the execution

    I really wanted to love this sapphic historical fantasy about women (witches) fighting against disgusting working conditions and even more disgusting men. Unfortunately, I have quite a few issues with this. There's white women using sage in their practice, a magic system that is poorly designed and thought out, and the fact that white is capitalized even once knocks this down a few stars for me. I'm sure this is historically accurate but I think that accuracy is what breaks what could have been a truly fascinating story.

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  • Unite

    This is the story of a group of women who work in clothes factories and band together to protect themselves from the exploitative factory owners whose machines are (literally) sucking their souls. They form a workers' union and seal their pact with a spell that will let them know if someone betrayed them to management. This is also the story of a woman who loves another of the women she works with and how they learn to protect one another.

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