Sandy Beech doesn’t believe in witches and the supernatural. However, certain strange events occur which put his scepticism to the test: a burning book, a falling crucifix, a mysterious illness, and a fire in a convent which kills all twelve nuns. On her death bead, Bernadette, the last surviving nun, warns him to control his lusts and avoid African women. Sandy finds this difficult, since he is attracted to exotic, dark-skinned women and after his hedonistic university exchange year in Paris, marries Rocky from the Ivory Coast. Five years later, childless and with the marriage souring, they decide to visit Rocky’s home country. Sandy is drawn into a world of strange beliefs and practices: he finds out about the Witch’s List – a list of people destined to die, and is attacked by various animals starting with a ferocious dog in Abidjan. He delves further and further into the realm of African witchcraft, but the horrific truth remains obscure… The Witch’s List is the first of a trilogy.
I didn’t need to finish the book to know I had become a fan of Andrew Cairns. It is one of those stories that crawl under your skin and would stay there for ages, lasting and cruel, because you’ll always recall reading; their words will always be a whisper in the back of you mind, a whisper, a caress of the soul.
The story unfolds at a steady pace, with the threat of dark outcomes never far away. It is Hemingway reborn – with a tongue so sweet it almost kills you, it is pacy and the language hugs you like a cosy blanket on a rainy day.
What fascinated me the most was the way the novel started off as an average story and slowly uncovered its fantasy for me. Slowly crawling on the verge of sanity until you are completely sunk in its world of magic. Highly engaging it is a read that I will definitely advise people to read.
It’s the kind of book where you don’t realise how much you’ve read until your eyes begin to hurt, filled with suspense, intrigue, and chills. An intriguing premise that doesn’t fall short!