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Conjure Wife

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,148 ratings  ·  225 reviews
Regardez votre femme... ou celle d'un autre.
Maintenant imaginez-la en sorcière. Imaginez que toutes les femmes sont des sorcières et que les hommes ne font que se soumettre à leurs charmes... non, pas ceux-là...
Des charmes, sorts, conjurations et envoûtements non dénués de danger.
Incroyable? C'était aussi l'avis de Norman Saylor lorsqu'il apprit que sa femme pratiquait la
Hardcover, 188 pages
Published November 1993 by Buccaneer Books (first published April 1943)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  2,148 ratings  ·  225 reviews

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Bill Kerwin
May 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: weird-fiction, gothic

The premise of this book must have seemed remarkably clever--and unusual--when it appeared in 1943.

What if all the women are witches and keep their craft secret from their husbands? What if their husbands' success in the workplace--their good performance reviews, their promotions, their smallest political victories--are due to their spouses' spells and circles of protection? And what would happen if one of the men found out, and persuaded his wife to renounce magic?

Many novels and films--and a
Nandakishore Varma
Fritz Leiber is an absolute pleasure to read. The narrative moves on at such a fast clip that you will miss the beauty of the language and the craft of the writer unless you purposefully take time to savour it: like the beauty of the countryside is wasted on an impatient traveller seated in a fast train. He is that rare thing, a literary fantasy writer who is exciting as well.

Leiber's plots are always unique and this short novel is no exception. Norman Saylor and his beautiful young wife Tansy a
Bark  |  Ladies Of Horror Fiction
When Norman Saylor discovers that his wife Tansy has been dabbling in witchcraft he demands that she cease all witchy activity and then demands that she remove all of her protective spells placed upon their home.

This is a mistake Norman will soon live to regret as his comfortable life begins to unravel. See, it seems that Tansy wasn’t the only one practicing witchcraft and the grasping wives of Norman’s colleagues at the college have been practicing as well. Now, what with the protections ceasin
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a fun novel about a witch.

The professor of a small college discovers that his wife is practicing magic.
He's disgusted that his wife, superstitious and flighty as she is, would do such a thing and orders her to immediately discontinue her practices.
Unfortunately, he does not consider that there could have been benefits associated with her charms.
I enjoyed the book very much despite the prejudices against women. Since this book was published in the 50's, I guess that type of thing is par
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 3.5 of 5

Everyone knows the saying, "Behind every great man, there's a great woman." Well, in Conjure Wife, the great woman is a witch, and her great man doesn't know that. And it's worldwide: all women are witches, and they either know of or practice witchcraft.

Here's the gist:

One day, feeling good and taking a moment to reflect on his life, Norman Saylor, a professor of sociology at Hempnell College, begins to ponder his successes, one of which he considers his wife, Tansy. How did I ge
Mike (the Paladin)
This was an interesting and attention holding book, with a strange little "hook". The idea here is that "all women" are really part of a worldwide (seemingly)sorority. They're all witches.

A little disturbing for a guy to read....

However I liked it quite a lot. It caused me to read Our Lady of Darkness...a more complex book , but with an inferior story I believe. This one is just better "story-telling".

I found the story catching me quickly and pulling me along toward the climax. Imaginative and a
I picked this because it's the novel that Burn, Witch, Burn! aka Night of the Eagle is based on. Ever since I came across the movie (five or so years ago), it is one of my October/Halloween flicks.

The story of Tansy, a professor's wife who uses witchcraft to protect and further his career at Hempnell College. Things go well until Norman happens upon her craft and beinb the officious and logical man, he insists Tansy cease as it's beneath sensible people (and best left to the backward indigenous
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can see where this one would be (and should be) considered a classic. It’s hard to believe it was penned in 1943 as it stands up extremely well. You can see the influence Fritz Leiber has had on many of today’s modern horror authors. Well done. 3.5+ Stars
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: classic horror readers, those interested in women issues in speculative fiction
I read this out of the Dark Ladies: Conjure Wife/Our Lady of Darkness duology, but I wanted to jot down my thoughts separately for this one before I finish the volume.

I found the writing clever. I was transplanted into the cutthroat world of college politics. Who knew that the wives could be just as fierce as their faculty husbands? And that they would resort to sorcery and witchcraft to keep their husbands (and themselves by relation) in power? Things get pretty nasty!

I think that there is some
Nancy Oakes
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror

actually, somewhere between 4 and 5, but this is one hell of a good novel.

before Matthew knocks on our door and while we still have power I figured I'd post about this book. I did a flip-flop on this one, and watched the movie prior to reading the novel, but I can tell you that the movie follows the book pretty closely.

Norman Saylor is a professor of sociology who finds himself caught up in supernatural forces that he's built a career denying. Norman tea
Marie Helene
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-kindle
I'm finished, I'm finished, I'm finished!
Oh joy, because I thought I would never finish it 😴
So why the 4-star rating? Because Mr Leiber's writing is superb (as simple as that).
And the stray stone gargoyle was pretty cool too, I want one for my birthday.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
4.5 stars

My second book by Fritz Leiber, and it’s another winner. Many creepy scenes and a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Before I knew better, I assumed that Fritz Leiber's Conjure Wife was the basis for Rene Clair's film I Married a Witch. But no. Clair's 1942 film is based on Thorne Smith's The Passionate Witch, published posthumously in 1941. Leiber's novel came out in 1943 and therefore is neither the source of Clair's classic film or, by extension, the long-running 1960's sitcom Bewitched. I could apply the "classic:" modifier to the TV program as well, but it would only prove how pliable a term "classic" can ...more
Oct 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror
Conjure Wife is a 1943 horror novel by master fantasist Fritz Leiber, who is best known for his excellent FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER stories. While Conjure Wife is usually labeled as horror, the recently released trade paperback edition from Orb is marketed as "the classic of urban fantasy" — maybe to latch on to the recent surge in popularity of that sub-genre? Regardless of which genre it's placed in, Conjure Wife is an excellent novel that definitely deserved a re-release.

Norman Saylor is a s
Jun 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hugo, classic, witchcraft
An ethnology professor specializing in primitive superstition stumbles upon his wife’s occult hobby. As Norman (for Normal?) loses his secular certainty his life unravels.

Sometimes the book caught me off guard:

“There’ve been enough times when I’ve wanted to stop,” she added. “Just like there’ve been times I’ve wanted to stop being a woman.”

Did a man really write that in 1943?!?!?

Overall, the story was slow and misty. I would have given it a higher rating but in the end (view spoiler)
J.K. Grice
A solid occult type horror book from Leiber. He handles this story quite well, but CONJURE WIFE is not as good as say, DARK SISTER by Graham Joyce, which offers a bit more in this same vein.
3.0 to 3.5 stars. This was a fun, fast read with a well written (it is Fritz Leiber after all) and well paced plot that kept me engaged until the very end. Two things kept me from giving this story a four star rating. First, the main character, Norman Saylor, was one of those characters that had me screaming at the book things like "what are you, an idiot" by the way he reacts to the plot revelations. For a while you understand it, but when it goes on for as long as it does, it got a bit tedious ...more
Heidi Ward
Conjure Wife has been on my TBR list forever, and I'm glad I finally got around to it. Lieber's story of witchcraft at a small university is exciting and claustrophobic, and the black magic believably wrought. It is, though, not without its flaws, which I'm afraid mostly come from the story being just a teeny bit dated. Read it as a period piece from the 1940s, and it's a cracking good tale. Just take the deeply ingrained gender biases - men are professorial, but utterly hoodwinked, husbands, an ...more
May 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
If you were to find the source of what is now called urban fantasy this tense novel would be it. Written in 1942, not 1953 as the Goodreads description states, Leiber has written a sly and involving work of horror that uses a modern (for the 1940s) college setting to create a world where all women are witches and the men innocently go on their business thinking they are the masters of their castles. It is a Stepford Wives in reverse where the dutiful wives secretly promote their husbands' career ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013

After I finished with the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser adventures, I wanted to try something not 'sword & sorcery' by the author. Conjure Wife has been recommended to me as a good example of his more modern work, and indeed it is quality proof of Fritz Leiber versatility. This one is a psychological thriller with strong horror elements. The poet who sang of heroic deeds and exotic landscapes is still present in the elegant prose and powerful atmospheric scenes of tempest and nights in the cemete
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is probably one of the earliest Leiber books I've got, and I must say that even in these comparatively young days Fritz really knew how to weave an engaging and masterfully told story. Since I was no stranger to Leiber coming into this novel, I think I had a better handle on some of the obsessions and ponderings that he returns to again and again in many of his stories, and so the supposed sexism that prevents some from wholeheartedly appreciating Conjure Wife didn't really strike me as suc ...more
Norman is married to Tansy. "For a woman she was almost oddly free from irrationality." Ack. Eep. I had to put aside my irritation at sentences like that one, and my dislike for adverb abuse. "She hugged her cuddlingly." Really? Cuddlingly was necessary? Stop, Sarah. Stop. I shouldn't complain. For a book written by a man in 1943, the women in this novel are fairly well rounded, and hey, there's more than one. And there are some creepy, suspenseful scenes. I had to stop reading it at night.
I rea
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tough call on this one. It's a 1954/2019 Retro Hugo award winner, which says that it's redeeming qualities in 1954 are still recognizable fifty years in the future. And I did enjoy it.
But I had to filter out the light touches of racism -- non-whites were emphasized and only showed as servants, porters, and hotel maids, or in the sociological researches of the lead character. Sexism was a product of the time, and the vastly different roles of men and women made the novel quite dated.
That aside, w
B.R. Sanders
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, horror, weird
This is an exciting, fun read about a sociology professor, Norman, who teaches at a small liberal arts college. He is a relatively recent arrival and thus something of an outsider. A coterie of witches comprised of the wives of the other faculty professors would like to do Norman harm, but can not. They are being blocked by Norman's wife, Tansy, a somewhat reluctant witch herself, who is not a member of the coven. She simply knows enough about the mystic arts to adequately protect her and Norman ...more
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads, horror
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tenebrous Kate
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'll admit I went into this book with a bit of trepidation, not loving what I'd seen of its film adaptation (Night of the Eagle/Burn Witch Burn) and overall skeptical of most "suburban gothic" tales. Turns out I should have trusted the part of my brain reminding me I've enjoyed every bit of Leiber's writing I've read, because this is a delight through and through. Only a master of the pulp craft could wring such incredible tension from scenes of phone calls and knot tying.

Covered in depth on the
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2015-rev
4 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

Ethnology professor Norman Saylor discovers that his wife has been putting his study of folk-magic to practical use. When he convinces her to stop, things go wrong, and he begins to wonder whether she might have been right to believe in magic after all.

I imagine most people first encounter Fritz Leiber from his Lankhmar series, but many know that he wrote a host of other good books, including Conjure Wife, his first novel. While in key ways a creature of its time in
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Could not put this book down: it's an absolutely enthralling example of 1950s literary attempts to merge science and the paranormal. Right in line with the books Stir of Echoes and The Haunting of Hill House: dark, creepy, exciting, unorthodox, satisfying, short and simple. From my own study of HooDoo, quite well researched. Like those books, it also contains fascinating gender politics.

Favorite paragraph:
Then, in one instant of diabolic, paralyzing insight,he knew that this was sorcery. No mer
This was a quick light read. A witch developing her powers and her husband not liking it one bit. It's rather funny in parts and kind of bland in others. ...more
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Fritz Reuter Leiber Jr. was one of the more interesting of the young writers who came into HP Lovecraft's orbit, and some of his best early short fiction is horror rather than sf or fantasy. He found his mature voice early in the first of the sword-and-sorcery adventures featuring the large sensitive barbarian Fafhrd and the small street-smart-ish Gray Mouser; he returned to this series at various ...more

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