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Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide

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Beloved author Ami McKay is back, bringing us a magical follow-up in the tradition of Victorian winter tales to her mesmerizing bestseller, The Witches of New York . During the nights between Christmas and New Year's, the witches of New York--Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and the youngest, Beatrice Dunn--gather before the fire to tell ghost stories and perform trad Beloved author Ami McKay is back, bringing us a magical follow-up in the tradition of Victorian winter tales to her mesmerizing bestseller, The Witches of New York . During the nights between Christmas and New Year's, the witches of New York--Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and the youngest, Beatrice Dunn--gather before the fire to tell ghost stories and perform traditional Yuletide divinations. (Did you know that roasting chestnuts were once used to foretell one's fate?) As the witches roast chestnuts and melt lead to see their fate, a series of odd messengers land on their doorstep bearing invitations for a New Year's Eve masquerade hosted by a woman they've never met. Gossip, dreams and portents follow, leading the witches to question the woman's motives. Is she as benevolent as she seems or is she laying a trap. And so, as Gilded-Age New York prepares to ring in the new year, the witches don their finery and heard for the ball, on the hunt for answers that might well be the end of them.


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Beloved author Ami McKay is back, bringing us a magical follow-up in the tradition of Victorian winter tales to her mesmerizing bestseller, The Witches of New York . During the nights between Christmas and New Year's, the witches of New York--Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and the youngest, Beatrice Dunn--gather before the fire to tell ghost stories and perform trad Beloved author Ami McKay is back, bringing us a magical follow-up in the tradition of Victorian winter tales to her mesmerizing bestseller, The Witches of New York . During the nights between Christmas and New Year's, the witches of New York--Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and the youngest, Beatrice Dunn--gather before the fire to tell ghost stories and perform traditional Yuletide divinations. (Did you know that roasting chestnuts were once used to foretell one's fate?) As the witches roast chestnuts and melt lead to see their fate, a series of odd messengers land on their doorstep bearing invitations for a New Year's Eve masquerade hosted by a woman they've never met. Gossip, dreams and portents follow, leading the witches to question the woman's motives. Is she as benevolent as she seems or is she laying a trap. And so, as Gilded-Age New York prepares to ring in the new year, the witches don their finery and heard for the ball, on the hunt for answers that might well be the end of them.

30 review for Half Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    *Scream* I had no idea that Ami McKay had even written a sequel to The Witches of New York until I stumbled upon it at the bookstore this morning. It's New Years Eve 1881 and Adelaide, Beatrice, and Eleanor are invited to a ball where they face their greatest enemies. It was delightful, but I want a proper sequel not a mere 92 page tease.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Gaarder

    Read my reviews at http://www.jenchaosreviews.com Half Spent Was the Night Knopf Canada, October 18, 2018 112 Pages Hardcover Edition From GoodReads: " Beloved author Ami McKay is back, bringing us a magical follow-up in the tradition of Victorian winter tales to her mesmerizing bestseller, The Witches of New York.  During the nights between Christmas and New Year's, the witches of New York--Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and the youngest, Beatrice Dunn--gather before the fire to tell ghost stories Read my reviews at http://www.jenchaosreviews.com Half Spent Was the Night Knopf Canada, October 18, 2018 112 Pages Hardcover Edition From GoodReads: " Beloved author Ami McKay is back, bringing us a magical follow-up in the tradition of Victorian winter tales to her mesmerizing bestseller, The Witches of New York.  During the nights between Christmas and New Year's, the witches of New York--Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and the youngest, Beatrice Dunn--gather before the fire to tell ghost stories and perform traditional Yuletide divinations. (Did you know that roasting chestnuts were once used to foretell one's fate?) As the witches roast chestnuts and melt lead to see their fate, a series of odd messengers land on their doorstep bearing invitations for a New Year's Eve masquerade hosted by a woman they've never met. Gossip, dreams, and portents follow, leading the witches to question the woman's motives. Is she as benevolent as she seems or is she laying a trap? And so, as Gilded-Age New York prepares to ring in the new year, the witches don their finery and heard for the ball, on the hunt for answers that might well be the end of them. " GoodReads Rating: 3.81/ My Rating 5.00 Review: After reading Witches of New York, this was a nice leadup to perhaps a series of books that are possible for this particular storyline. The book includes the infamous three witches who underwent a harrowing adventure involving Beatrice Dunn, a young precocious girl with the ability to speak to spirits. This time, however, the story is darker than the first book. At 112 pages, I was not disappointed. Being invited to the end of the year's most spoken about ball by a mysterious Baroness who seems very interested in the three, seems like a dream come true. At least for Beatrice. The two others are a little shocked and surprised and feel a little more than hesitant than to go along with what is in store for them at the ball. Eleanor, in particular, seems the most suspicious and decides she won't go. Beatrice is young and wants to experience this fantastic event so Adelaide Thom, the seer of the three decides she will go if only to watch over the young charge. But something is brewing in New York behind the scenes, and the three are involved whether they know it or not. Especially Beatrice. The Baroness is a very strange woman and seems to know everything about the women. Their personalities, their pasts and everything else. The strange thing is, many of the things the Baroness knows, especially to Adelaide Thom, was a secret until now. There is a man from the previous book, a very dangerous and demonic man. Mr. Pelsham. His taste is not that for blood, but the skill and ownership of people with power. He also has been invited to the ball, much to the chagrin of the oldest witch, Eleanor. This book is an enchanting read that does not explore the powers the women have quite as clearly as the first book did. Indeed, with only a mere 112 pages, this story was focused. You find yourself involved in the lives of these women in such a way that you feel that you are a part of them. Knowing the history of Adelaide and the people involved in her past, opened my eyes. It didn't make me like her less, it made me respect the fact that she rose from the ashes and became a better person in spite of the adversity. I did, however, have a problem with Beatrice. She seemed to have the least amount of sense. Having gone through what she did in the first story, you would think she would be more on guard about strange men. However, at one point in the story, she seemed enamored by a man, in a mask, with no name or introduction. She was a fool and I was shocked that she hadn't learned anything from the previous story. The two older witches were great as was the housekeeper Mrs. Stutt. Always on the lookout for the danger she knew was behind every corner, Eleanor was the one with the MOST sense. Adelaide was a person I could go either way with. I did find this story rather touching. The close friendship and love the three witches had for each other was illustrated throughout the book. This was especially present in the end. Old World Witchcraft and rituals were mentioned in the book from the old folklore of German villages of Mrs. Stutt to Eleanor and her famous Grimoire of magic. The Wild Hunt was the main thought towards the end. This was a great ritual that could only be done at the stroke of midnight of the New Year. It was amazing to read about this as I have read differing versions of what The Wild Hunt is. Writing: The writing was clean and crisp. Ms. McKay put together a story that was woven intricately with words that were neither too difficult nor too simple. She struck a balance to make an intelligent and enjoyable read. Plot: The plot was linear and did not seem to run into any flashbacks. While Some characters harken from the previous book, it seemed unnecessary to add them to this one. When writing a book so short, there is little space and time to do such a thing. The main plot became apparent towards 15% of the book. The secondary plot was also revealed at that time involving Mrs. Stutt, Eleanor and Beatrice. As the book progressed, the wild hunt revealed some truths that brought a very satisfying ending for the book. I also saw that there could be another book in the making with the ending this one had. It was not a cliffhanger, mind you. However, these women's stories have not yet ended. What I Liked: The characters were well designed, all of them, even the secondary characters. Ami McKay has a magic touch when designing memorable characters and places. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the people that I loved from the previous book spring up. They were the same as before as if she had written this story while writing the other. This was a seamless insertion to the storyline that is The Witches of New York.  What I Didn't Like: I was a little upset that the Baroness did not play a bigger part in the book. She seemed to have a dominating personality and characteristics; however, she was not involved as much as I would have liked. I also thought the magic that did play a role in this short tale was a bit soft. To be clear, I was not expecting lightning bolts from the sky or fires from the depths of Hell. All I wanted to see was more magic from Eleanor as she seemed more hesitant in the story than the last. Overall Impression: For the fans of Witches of New York and anyone who like stories of witchcraft and strong female leads, this book is for you. However, it is ESSENTIAL you read the first book in the duology before you read this one, or you will be lost. This is a great story as is the first one. I rated this one a 5.0.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    When a book that isn’t sad makes you cry at the end because it was so wonderful and too short and you already miss all the characters two seconds after reading the last word. I loved Witches of New York and this follow-up novella was perfection except that now I am craving more. I really hope this isn’t the last time Ami visits these characters. This novella actually tied up a couple of loose ends from Witches and revisits some things from The Virgin Cure. I loved all the mythos and witchy stuff When a book that isn’t sad makes you cry at the end because it was so wonderful and too short and you already miss all the characters two seconds after reading the last word. I loved Witches of New York and this follow-up novella was perfection except that now I am craving more. I really hope this isn’t the last time Ami visits these characters. This novella actually tied up a couple of loose ends from Witches and revisits some things from The Virgin Cure. I loved all the mythos and witchy stuff and the fact that there are recipes included was a nice surprise. As with all of Ami’s books the writing was pure poetry and I feel even more like these witches are kindred spirits. I can see this becoming a fave Christmas read and I know I’ll be reading it again in December.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rimpy Toor

    "Christmas Day has come and gone, the New Year lies ahead. Strange things happen Between the Years, in the days outside of time. Minutes go wild, hours vanish. Idleness becomes a clever thief, stealing the names of the days of the week, muting the steady tick of watches and clocks. These are the hours when angels, ghosts, demons and meddlers ride howling wind and flickering candlelight, keen to stir unguarded hearts and restless minds." I read The Witches of New York by Ami Mckay when it first ca "Christmas Day has come and gone, the New Year lies ahead. Strange things happen Between the Years, in the days outside of time. Minutes go wild, hours vanish. Idleness becomes a clever thief, stealing the names of the days of the week, muting the steady tick of watches and clocks. These are the hours when angels, ghosts, demons and meddlers ride howling wind and flickering candlelight, keen to stir unguarded hearts and restless minds." I read The Witches of New York by Ami Mckay when it first came out, and when I found out she was coming out with a novella of sorts for it, I was ecstatic. The Witches of New York is the perfect fall read, with witches and magic and demons littered throughout. I was expecting something a bit different from this novella. I expected it to be filled with little stories passed from generations of witches throughout the year. I was looking forward to the girls sitting around a fire and sharing the stories their ancestors told them. Unfortunately that wasn't exactly what this novella was. Instead it was a sort of extension/conclusion to The Witches of New York. That being said, I was not totally let down by this novella because I did definitely love getting the closure I was looking for when I finished The Witches of New York. I was expecting Ami Mckay to come out with a sequel for the novel, but instead she chose the route of a novella. This novella still held the fall, spooky feeling I was looking for. It had the magic and witchery and atmosphere that drew me in the first time, and it was definitely nice to see the girls from the first novel and see what they were up to this time. I did find this novella to feel a bit fast paced for my liking. It felt like Ami Mckay was trying to jam pack all the plot holes left unfilled from the first novel into this novella, and that made it not feel as though it was planned well enough. I loved seeing a couple recipes mentioned in the story dispersed throughout this novella in full form. It's a fun idea to include the recipes in case a reader wants to get the full experience and also bake the goods mentioned. This was also a fantastic way to split the moments in the novella up a bit. All in all this was a fun short read. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. If you were a fan of The Witches of New York and have been looking for closure, definitely pick this novella up when it comes out and give it a read by the fire on a cold winters day.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luanne Ollivier

    I adore Ami McKay's writing. I settled myself into my favourite reading chair with a cup of tea on a windblown night to read her latest - a novella entitled Half-Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide. 1881. This historical (and yes, magical) tale is wrapped around the three New York witches from the book of the same name. As the women are sat around the fire, divining what the New Year might hold, three invitations arrive for a New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball from a woman known to none of them. I adore Ami McKay's writing. I settled myself into my favourite reading chair with a cup of tea on a windblown night to read her latest - a novella entitled Half-Spent Was the Night: A Witches' Yuletide. 1881. This historical (and yes, magical) tale is wrapped around the three New York witches from the book of the same name. As the women are sat around the fire, divining what the New Year might hold, three invitations arrive for a New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball from a woman known to none of them. Should they attend? "Christmas Day has come and gone, the New Year lies ahead. Strange things happen Between the Years, in the days outside of time." I enjoyed revisiting Adelaide, Eleanor and Beatrice. I've grown quite fond of them. Half Spent Was the Night picks up not long after the ending of the last book. Answers and revelations to previous questions and happenings are found in this little volume. But not all - there is still much to tell. A sense of enchantment and wonderment wraps the descriptions, the dialogue, the settings and the characters. McKay's writing is so easy and such a pleasure to read. There are some recipes included - the German sweet bread sounds delicious. And I liked the hidden little detail I found underneath the book jacket - a stamping of a mask within holly. And the title? You'll find it's origin in the last few pages. Half Spent Was the Night is another spellbinding read from Ami McKay. My only complaint - I wanted more - I'll be eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pinar

    Was this like a novella and I missed the memo? I had to double check to see that, yes, it is indeed the second book of Witches of New York series. Can’t believe how short it was especially for a $8.99 book. It was nice and dreamy, would be a great read for the Yuletide -that is, for one afternoon. I think it was misleading to label it as the second book of the series, however. It was more like a Christmas/New Year’s special story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    I don't really know what happened in this book. Some witches are sitting around chatting, having a good time. Then they go to a masquerade ball. Then somehow (view spoiler)[a demon shows up and they fight it. (hide spoiler)] I didn't read the first book, and didn't like the characters enough to read it in the future.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ren (A Bookish Balance)

    My only major critique of this was that it could have been longer, still have my fingers crossed for a full sequel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    3.5 stars rounded up. This is an easy afternoon read that I will definitely reread in Decemeber. Ami McKay revisits my favorite sisters in this small novel and ties up some loose ends from the past. I found this book read differently than her other three novels and didn't have the same, slow "historical fiction type" feel, if that makes any sense. I really love her other stories and found this one was a little rushed. I really would have loved to revisit these characters in another whole novel. 3.5 stars rounded up. This is an easy afternoon read that I will definitely reread in Decemeber. Ami McKay revisits my favorite sisters in this small novel and ties up some loose ends from the past. I found this book read differently than her other three novels and didn't have the same, slow "historical fiction type" feel, if that makes any sense. I really love her other stories and found this one was a little rushed. I really would have loved to revisit these characters in another whole novel. I ordered this book online and had expected it to be a longer novel but this still worked, I really hope she revisits these characters again in the future.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    What a lovely little story! It's so good to spend time with the three witches of New York again although this little appetizer has whetted my appetite for a full length sequel. I sincerely hope we get one!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ebru

    Perdu perdu perdu 😍😍😍

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle McDonough

    The story was great! Love the witches, I just wish it was longer. I read it in one sitting. I was looking forward to a longer read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Short, which is good, because the story is lost on me. It starts so pietical, like a fairytale, but it does not hold that voice. Instead it reverts to typical narration for much of the story. But because of the type of story and the brevity of the story, typical narration also does not work. A book of mystical fantastic characters should hold that position throughout; because this one does not, it falls flat, in my opinion. Three witches go to a ball and have to defend against a demon. It all ha Short, which is good, because the story is lost on me. It starts so pietical, like a fairytale, but it does not hold that voice. Instead it reverts to typical narration for much of the story. But because of the type of story and the brevity of the story, typical narration also does not work. A book of mystical fantastic characters should hold that position throughout; because this one does not, it falls flat, in my opinion. Three witches go to a ball and have to defend against a demon. It all happens so quickly and easily that their so-called troubles at the start never get to be real problems. I do not connect with them or care about them. Like a half naked story idea, or a short story that got too long. Pass on this one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Crowe

    I would have read this little novel based on the cover alone, wouldn't you? But, given the author, I knew that time spent between these pages would not be wasted; in fact, I had already pre-ordered this gem months ago and promptly forgotten all about it. I was thrilled to find it in my mailbox! Ami McKay's work reminds me a good deal of Alice Hoffman's - which, given how much I love the latter, is high praise indeed. But McKay has a similar gift with lyricism and lovely prose, and she too loves to I would have read this little novel based on the cover alone, wouldn't you? But, given the author, I knew that time spent between these pages would not be wasted; in fact, I had already pre-ordered this gem months ago and promptly forgotten all about it. I was thrilled to find it in my mailbox! Ami McKay's work reminds me a good deal of Alice Hoffman's - which, given how much I love the latter, is high praise indeed. But McKay has a similar gift with lyricism and lovely prose, and she too loves to delve into magical realms. "Half Spent Was the Night" is a fast read - more of a novelette, really, at 92 pages - but it's wonderful. The characters you'll meet here have been featured in at least two of this author's other novels, and so, were not strangers to me. Delightful witches - with unique talents - Adelaide, Eleanor and Beatrice make their home in nineteenth-century New York. They've had their share of troubles, and, perhaps, should not consider responding to the Yuletide Masquerade Ball invitation received from a stranger. But of course, they do! But is the hostess friend or fiend? I'll never tell! Read it, read it, read it! And if you're too late to catch this for the Halloween season, don't despair. This novel may involve witches, but its a holiday tale. Enjoy!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review* I LOVED The Witches of New York (and want to be best friends with Adelaide, Eleanor and Beatrice), so it was amazing to have a little more of their story in this sequel. This next instalment in the witches' story is set on New Year's Eve, and while it is a very quick read - just under 100 pages - it contains all the intrigue and magic that I loved from the first book, and I enjoyed getting to spend time in the witches' New York City a I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review* I LOVED The Witches of New York (and want to be best friends with Adelaide, Eleanor and Beatrice), so it was amazing to have a little more of their story in this sequel. This next instalment in the witches' story is set on New Year's Eve, and while it is a very quick read - just under 100 pages - it contains all the intrigue and magic that I loved from the first book, and I enjoyed getting to spend time in the witches' New York City again for a little while. Basically, it's the perfect book to read on the front porch in the intervals between handing out candy on Halloween (it's also the perfect tiny size to fit in a stocking, and it IS set right around the holidays.... I was tempted to wait until Christmas to read this, but I just couldn't wait - and I think it's just as fitting for October!). 4.5/5 ****

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jj Hart

    Short and sweet. It could have gone a little longer I think but i have been enjoying every book by Ami McKay this far. Loved her birth house, and the virgin cure and now this one. This novellete felt like a pretty good little fairy tale that delved into the magical realm. I liked it. It was something different for sure.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I'll always love the fantastic and wonderful world of witches that McKay has created, but this book was just too short for my liking. (I know it's written to be short, that that's the point of it, but everything happened so quickly, too quickly for me.) It was a privilege to be invited back into the world of the witches of New York, but it was over far too fast.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Linda Cook

    I usually hate novellas but this one was good, though I think there was enough possibility there to become a fuller story. However the shorter format made it zip right along. The story was interesting especially the ending with the world of witches and demons constantly fascinating . The premise and setup of the ball was ingenious and the raven!! Well, who knew? Awaiting the next book eagerly.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marta Pelrine-Bacon

    It's magical. I loved returning to spend time with favorite characters even if it is a brief visit. Highly recommend. You don't have to have read The Witches of New York, I think, to appreciate the story, but it would definitely add more meaning to the tale. Besides, why wouldn't you want to read The Witches of New York? It is magical indeed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    Don't start this novella without first reading McKay's The Witches of New York. The characters are developed in the first novel and this short story ties up some loose ends. It was an enjoyable read, and I am hoping for another full novel in the Witches future!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lorelei

    I love Ami McKay's writing. Not really fair for this to be marketd as a sqeuel, though. This struck me more as a short story you would read in a magazine than a book so I finished and kind of felt like, that was it?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Witteveen-roth

    I paid too much for this book. I ordered it online and was rather surprised at how little it was when I opened the package. It is short, and kind of.... You know when someone tells you about a book they read? That is how this reads.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I loved it but this was billed as the sequel about the witches I love and it was barely a novella. It was less than 100 pages. Great story and perfect for this time of year, but I needed more!!!! Come on and give us a full book-so I took a star off.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Morton

    It's a cute and very short book. It wasn't as good as her other books.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Marie

    What a delightful story. I loved "The Witches of New York". It remains one of my favourites. This novella adds onto that one. If you are a fan of Ami McKay, you will enjoy this little ditty.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie Lecker

    another great McKay book about the New York witches but it's really a novella - wish it wasn't so short

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy McLay Paterson

    I loved The Witches of New York, but this is not worth reading. It does contain an intriguing recipe for Engelszopf (German angel bread).

  28. 4 out of 5

    Liz Lovesrainbows

    Great story. I should have read The Witches of New York first for backstory.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gisele

    Was charmed by The Witches of New York and especially Perdu...Half Spent Was the Night only made me love him more!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Loved it!

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