The Witch Haven - book cover
Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Publisher : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Published : 31 Aug 2021
  • Pages : 448
  • ISBN-10 : 1534454381
  • ISBN-13 : 9781534454385
  • Language : English

The Witch Haven

A New York Times Bestseller

"Spectacular, singular, and spellbinding." -Casey McQuiston, New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue

The Last Magician meets The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards.

In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she's attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet-her scissors in his neck, and she can't explain how they got there.

Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn't a sanitarium at all: it's a school for witches. Within Haxahaven's glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she's been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Frances's newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?

Editorial Reviews

"Smith opens a trick door between bruising history and glittering fantasy, to a place that will leave you drunk on secrets and dreaming of magic (and murder). The Witch Haven is spectacular, singular, and spellbinding." -- Casey McQuiston, New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue

"A beautiful story filled with sisterhood, mystery, and interesting magic. This book will keep you turning the page with immersive prose and clever, memorable characters. I will be dreaming about this story for a long time." -- Adrienne Young, New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep

"As dark and lush as it is utterly enrapturing, The Witch Haven is sure to enchant." -- Alexis Henderson author of, The Year of the Witching

"A positively spellbinding debut. Smith has crafted a delectably immersive mystery packed with magic, enchantment, and an absolute powerhouse cast of women." -- Adalyn Grace, New York Times bestselling author of All the Stars and Teeth

"The Witch Haven is a dazzling debut -- a wonderfully thrilling, sinister take on a secret school for witches. Sasha Peyton Smith deftly balances a nuanced exploration of loss with a page-turning magical romp through 1911 NYC. I grieved, raged, and swooned right alongside Frances." -- Jessica Spotswood, author of Born Wicked

"The Witch Haven is a mesmerizing atmospheric historical fantasy fraught with spellbinding magic, mystery and nail-biting twists and turns." -- B&N Reads

"The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith is a dazzling historical fantasy novel about a school for witches in 1911 New York City." -- PopSugar

"Devotees of Libba Bray's The Diviners will enjoy debut author Smith's affectionate group of witches breaking through straitlaced expectations in a historical New York." -- Publishers Weekly

"This intensely dramatic story presents Gaelic-influenced magic as a means to empowerment and shows the strength in sisterhood." -- Kirkus

"Mystery and adventure abound in Smith's spellbinding debut." -- Booklist

Readers Top Reviews

CorinneStacie mariaJ
An incredible debut from this author. Very well written with wonderful characters and a location to get lost in. Loved everything about it. Very dark and totally bewitching.
For a debut book by Sasha Peyton Smith... FIVE STARS!!! Witch Haven took me 4 days to read, and I wish I could re-live it from the very beginning all over again! It was a pleasure to follow along to Frances' story of awakening her powers, discovering friends, gaining alliances, and finding love. Sasha Peyton Smith did not disappoint at all throughout the book, and has me looking out for more witchy reads for this Spook season!!! Magic, Witches, Twists, Love, Heartbreak, Friendships, Murder, Mystery, etc. This book has it all! And to top it off? This book is BEAUTIFUL, the cover & dust cover are stunning and will look great on my shelves! I am excited for Smith's next book release, and I will be ordering as soon as I possibly can! Witch Haven took me 4.5 hours to read, and I loved every word I read.
Jess Clark
Fantastic book, loved the storyline. I did find 3 grammar mistakes within the book that were a little distracting. I may contact the editor to let them know lol. On page 70 "Mean as a whole a pit of vipers" the second "a" needs to be removed. The other one I didn't note the page number but it says "He blow lands squarely across my cheekbone" where "he" should be "his". And another, on a page I didn't note, "I don't know how if my heart will stand losing him again." Either the "if" or the "how" has to go, either one would work alone but don't work together. Sorry for being a grammar nazi.
Highly Caffeinated B
In THE WITCH HAVEN, Smith has gifted her readers with a wonderfully compelling tale centering around a young girl thrust into the world of magic.  Though I fully acknowledge this book is a young adult novel, there is so much about this story that transcends past this classification. First, there are the historical elements and settings which instantly transport the reader back to 1911 New York City. There is a realness to the atmosphere surrounding the Haxahaven as well as the city itself. Then, you have the introduction of magic to a girl who had no idea of its existence until an unfortunate accident with a pervy boss. Frances’s journey into becoming a witch is utterly enchanting. The way Smith brings this whole world to life allows the reader to learn right along with the girls at the school. 
 Next, there is the mystery surrounding her brother’s death. This thread is brought into everything Frances does. It informs so many of her decisions that as the reader, I worried about her judgment at times. Finally, there are the emotional connections between the girls’ friendships as well as the budding romances sprinkled in here and there. And I would be remiss to not mention some more contemporary themes of race and sexuality this book addresses in an expertly done way.  Every moment I spent within the pages of this book was pure enjoyment. There was romance, action, mystery, and magic all wrapped up in a historical landscape. It truly is a spellbinding read perfect for readers of all ages.
Gail Marie
This was her debut novel in an urban fantasy world, based in 1911 New York City. We follow protagonist, Frances Hallowell, a 17 year old seamstress. She is forced to attend a witch school after killing her boss. Set up as a fake tuberculosis center, she is thrust into a new world of underground magic. Magic that may help her uncover the truth of her brother's murder. For a debut novel, we can tell much love went into this story. This was a smasing debut with a wild tale of murder and magic and betrayal. I try to steer clear of some of the young adult reading as it caters to the demographic it is aimed at. Some of those reads feel immature to my cynical thity year old heart. This was not the case with this tale. Frances, while only 17, carries the grief of losing her brother and a grief I know too well. I really loved Franis and watching her struggle but succeed to find a new normal without him. If you were on the fence, read it. I know I will be adding Sasha Peyton Smith to my list of wonderful authors and will be impatiently awaiting her next one. This was an easy 5/5 for me.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter One: New York, September 1911 CHAPTER ONE NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 1911
My mother once told me a girl's success in this world was dependent on how well she could pretend. Right now, I am pretending I don't want to scream.

Mr. Hues is a difficult presence to ignore as he stalks through the shop with all the grace of a drunken lion.

He arrived this morning for one of his favorite surprise inspections, but as usual, it's less an inspection of the shop than of the seamstresses who work here.

Through stolen glances, the other girls and I take stock of one another's work. Mary ran out of bobbin thread two minutes ago. Catherine's tracing pencil snapped just before that.

I lose the silent game of chicken. With a resigned sigh, I rise from my desk, knowing the iron needs to be lit if I have any hope of finishing this hem.

It's impossible to pretend I don't notice the weight of Mr. Hues's gaze as his eyes track me down the aisle.

"Morning." His grin makes my skin crawl.

The smile I force feels like defeat. There's nothing he loves more than basking in our gratitude. Never mind that it's the thirteen of us here who do all the work and ship the profits off neatly to him at the end of every week.

Mr. Hues often tells us not to do things by halves, to dedicate ourselves fully to all that we do. When it comes to contributing to my misery, he follows his own advice.

An unexpected early fall frost fell last night, and the shop is cold. It's difficult to make the delicate stitches Mr. Hues demands with numb hands, but the last time our supervisor, Mrs. Carrey, asked him to increase our coal budget, he laughed in her face. And Mrs. Carrey does not have a face that's easy to laugh in.

I return to my sewing machine, weaving like a spider around desks of girls, all churning out dresses as quickly as we're able in the cramped space. I do my best not to bump Jess's elbow as she works next to me. The last time I did, I ended up with a straight pin stuck between my thumb and pointer finger. She said it was an accident but smiled when I started bleeding.

Mr. Hues lumbers around the dress shop, picking at dummies, running his fingers over fabrics. He stops at my workstation and picks up the stack of pattern pieces I've carefully laid out for a velvet coat for a rich widow, my best client. He rifles through them carelessly, as if he has any idea what he is looking at, then places them back on the corner of the desk haphazardly. A piece of the collar flutters to the floor. He pays it no mind.

It'll take me ages to sort out what he's just done.

His next target is Mary. He perches himself on the edge of her desk and asks her to give him a smile. His blond hair, or what is left of it, has been oiled back and combed over his head. He's drenched himself in cologne today; it coats the back of my throat, acrid and awful.

"Well done," he finally speaks, apparently having found our partially constructed garments to his liking. "How are my girls?"

The tone of his question implies he expects to find us overjoyed to be in the employment of such a fine man.

"Fine, thank you, Mr. Hues," we reply, our voices all an octave too high.

He turns to Mrs. Carrey to ask about the state of business.

With a wave of her wrinkled hand, she dismisses us from sitting at attention. Though our tightly packed desks don't offer us much distance from Mr. Hues, the reprieve from having to look at the grease trap of a man with reverence is a relief.

At least when I'm driven to eating nothing but a crusty heel of bread for dinner, I don't have to pretend to be happy about it. At least when I miss William so badly I fear my chest will crack open with the pain of it, I'm not forced to wear a smile on my face.

I busy myself constructing the midnight-blue velvet coat, and with the soft feel of the cloth under my hands, I remind myself, as I do ten thousand times a day, how lucky I am to have this position, Mr. Hues's visits and all.

I could be like my mother, exiled to that horrible hospital on Long Island, her mind irreparably fractured by William's death.

Or like my school friend Rosie, working in that factory by the river, inhaling sludge, on her feet for twelve hours a day, putting the same button on the same shirt ad infinitum. And that mind-numbing exhaustion is nothing compared to some of the stories she tells me, like the one of the girl who wore her braid too long. It go...