I have read quite a few fantasy book featuring witches recently in my quest for enjoyable, escapist reads. So I was delighted to see this offering featured and even more chuffed when I was approved for an audio arc.
BLURB: As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.
But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat. As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for…
REVIEW: It always helps if the narrator is good – and Samara MacLaren’s voice and reading style has become a solid favourite. So it was a bonus to discover her dulcet tones when I first tucked into this enjoyable offering.
Mika is a delightful protagonist. She’s had a tough time as a child. Due to a spell that went wrong several hundred years ago, all witches are orphaned early in their lives so are brought up by guardians instead of their parents. After the horrendous witch burnings of the 16th century, the community of witches scattered and now they only meet up very occasionally. For magic tends to gather around witches, making it easier for them to be discovered. So it’s deemed safer by formidable leaders like Primrose for witches to stay away from each other, making life lonely for adult witches who wish to continue to practise their magic. It would have been all too easy for Mika to have been portrayed as a classically tragic heroine – so I was very pleased to find her resolutely sunny-natured in all but the toughest situations.
Her three charges are funny without being too cute, unrealistically awful or revoltingly good – which is harder to achieve than Mandanna makes it look. There is also a rather sweet love story that unfolds in the middle of all the magical shenanigans, which I also enjoyed. However – there is a warning. The F-word is liberally sprinkled throughout, which didn’t really fit with the overall feel of the story. I certainly didn’t appreciate its use in front of the children, for instance. Apart from that one niggle, this is an enjoyable, often humorous and ultimately uplifting fantasy adventure with a dollop of romance with one steamy scene I fast-forwarded through. While I obtained an arc of The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
I like the idea of mixing witchcraft with social media: I imagine it might give a fresh spin to the magic in the story 🙂
Yes – there is no doubt the book is set in the here and now. And there’s a strong and convincing reason why we muggles don’t register the witchy stuff in amongst us:).
Excellent review! I forgot to mention it in my own review but I agree about the f word just feeling out of place with the overall vibe of the story. Curse words don’t bother me but that one just stuck out like a sore thumb. Otherwise I thought it was a gem of a story.
Ah – thank you for that, Suzanne:). I was wondering if it was just me! As you say – there are books where cursing is just part of the general worldbuilding, but in this one it just didn’t seem to fit. And as I was listening to this one, it particularly graunched.
I recently read a book where the F word was used but didn’t fit in, so I know what you mean. It can be jarring! Otherwise this sounds delightful.
I think it stood out more because I was listening to this one – and I now have children in the house who aren’t allowed to swear in our hearing:)). But it was the only real niggle I had in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable story.
I love a good narrator but is always a bit odd when language that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the book is added in. This does sound like a fantastic read and one I would really enjoy. Great review!
Thank you, Katherine:). I think I particularly noticed the F-bombs because I was listening to it. But I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one to find the cursing didn’t chime with the tone of the story.