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A Dystopian Read Where Witches Are Real and the Government Monitors Women

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Emily Martin

Contributing Editor

Emily has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS, and she has an MFA in Creative Writing from GCSU in Milledgeville, GA, home of Flannery O’Connor. She spends her free time reading, watching horror movies and musicals, cuddling cats, Instagramming pictures of cats, and blogging/podcasting about books with the ladies over at #BookSquadGoals ( She can be reached at

Welcome to Read This Book, your go-to newsletter if you’re looking to expand your TBR pile. Each week, I’ll recommend a book I think is an absolute must-read. Some will be new releases, some will be old favorites, and the books will vary in genre and subject matter every time. I hope you’re ready to get reading!

If you think you have to wait until October to read books about witches, think again. Actually, I happen to think witches are an all-year-round thing, but if you’re a more seasonal type person, hear me out. The book I’m recommending this week is witchy, sure, but it’s a story that feels relevant no matter what the season—especially (unfortunately) in our current political climate.

cover of The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings

The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings

I first read Megan Giddings’s The Women Could Fly two years ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s the type of book that made me feel all of the emotions. I laughed, I cried, I felt deeply unsettled. And I want everyone else to read this book, too, so I can talk to them about it.

This novel is set in a dystopian world where witches are real, and the government closely monitors all women to make sure they don’t turn into one. And if women aren’t married by 30, they become property of The State, their every move dictated and monitored. Josephine Thomas has heard rumors that her mother is a witch, and that’s why she disappeared, abandoning her family, never to be seen again. That was 14 years ago.

Now, as Jo’s 30th birthday looms ever closer, she desperately wants to move past the disappearance of her mother, but marriage and the life society wants her to lead seem wholly uninteresting to Jo. She’s dating, but she doesn’t feel a deep connection with any of the men in her life (including her father, whom she feels doesn’t really know the real her). With all of the pressures and expectations of women in this world, Jo feels like men can’t understand what she’s feeling or going through. In other words, the older Jo gets, the more she understands why her mother would want to run away and leave everything else behind. Jo has often had thoughts of doing the same.

Then Jo is offered a window into another way of life and gets new insight into who her mother was and who she would become. Suddenly, and perhaps for the first time ever in her life, Jo is presented with choices. But the choices aren’t easy, and following her heart might also put her in danger.

I absolutely loved every moment of this book. It confronts sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other topics that, unfortunately, feel very relevant to contemporary times. But most importantly, what made me connect to this story was Jo’s voice. Jo felt authentic and unique as a main character. She’s vulnerable and honest, but she’s also just really, understandably, angry. And somehow, this book still manages to have some genuine moments of humor. Like, I literally laughed out loud at points.

After Lakewood and The Women Could Fly, I can confidently say that Megan Giddings is one of those authors who will immediately jump to the top of my TBR every time she has a new book. If you haven’t checked her out yet, take this as your sign to do it now!

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