My Aunt is a Monster: A Graphic Novel Review

My Aunt is a Monster by Reimena YeeSafia loves reading about adventures in her audiobooks but she never reads about adventurers who are blind like her.

When she is sent to live with her reclusive and mysterious aunt, Lord Whimsy, Safia soon realizes she might be ready to have some adventures of her own.

Aunt Whimsy used to be a renowned traveler and adventure–things she set aside after her accident. That is until Whimsy’s old rival Professor Doctor Cecilia Choi resurface with news of their greatest discovery yet–a discovery that Whimsy found years before. Whisked along while her aunt tries to best her rival one last time, Safia embarks on the start of her own life as an adventure.

But adventuring is about more than traveling. When a group of chaotic agents threaten Whimsy, Professor Doctor Choi, and the entire world Safia will have to think fast to save the day in My Aunt is a Monster (2022) by Reimena Yee.

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My Aunt is a Monster is a standalone graphic novel with full color illustrations. Safia is brown skinned with relatives in Egypt and India–there is also diversity and LGBTQ+ representation in the supporting cast.

My Aunt is a Monster is a fast-paced adventured filled with humor and richly detailed world building as Safia learns more about her aunt’s exploits and life as an explorer. Safia’s journey as she realizes that she can be an adventurer just as she is makes for an empowering character arc and much needed representation. Unfortunately, Safia’s blindess is also used against her multiple times first with Aunt Whimsy lying to Safia and telling Safia that she is disfigured rather than cursed to take on the form of a monster while another character distracts Safia and takes advantage of her blindness to steal an artifact that Safia cannot see. Whimsy does eventually apologize and it could be seen as a teachable moment but it’s still a problematic one to be aware of.

Yee’s illustrations are intricately detailed and filled with fun elements from Whimsy’s adventures and the new backdrops of this current story. Quirky humor and take-charge heroine Safia make My Aunt is a Monster a great choice for anyone seeking a new graphic novel adventure.

Possible Pairings: Claire and the Dragons by Wander Antunes, Oddly Normal by Otis Frampton, The Rema Chronicles by Amy Kim Kibuishi, Target Practice by Mike Maihack, The Sand Warrior by Mike Siegel, Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson

Legends & Lattes: A Review

Legends & Lattes by Travis BaldreeViv knows how life as a mercenary always ends and it’s never with a peaceful retirement. So when the orc finds a chance to make a clean break and set aside her sword in the city of Thune she takes it even though it means turning her back on everyone and everything she’s ever known.

With battle-sharpened wits and an espresso machine, Viv is ready to open Thune’s first ever coffee shop. And explain to everyone in Thune what, exactly, coffee is.

Building a shop takes time and building a clinetele can take even longer. As Viv meets neighbors, hires employees, and possibly even makes friends she’ll realize that starting on a new path doesn’t always mean walking alone in Legends & Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes (2022) by Travis Baldree.

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Legends & Lattes can be read as a standalone but fans who want more can also check out Bookshops & Bone Dust–a prequel novel about Viv’s early career as a mercenary. with most characters belonging to non-human species, there is a lot of variety among the characters–many of whom also fall across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. When not writing books Baldree is an audiobook narrator and brings appropriately gentle tones to the audio production of this novel.

I’ve been describing Legends & Lattes as a literal coffee shop AU and, as the subtitle suggests, the related low stakes. While there is action and suspense while Viv deals with obstacles to opening (and keeping) her shop, Viv’s story is ultimately a quiet one about building community and meeting people where they are. Themes of friendship and a very light romance between Viv and her employee-turned-business-partner Tandri inform the bulk of this story making it a gentle story perfect for fantasy readers who find themselves wondering what NPCs (nonplayer characters) might be getting up to while larger plots play out.

Legends & Lattes is a cozy diversion and a great introduction to fantasy for readers more comfortable with realistic fiction.

Possible Pairings: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller, The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by CM Waggoner

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

The Lost Dreamer: A Review

“Stories don’t end, they just change shape.”

The Lost Dreamer by Lizz HuertaIndir is a Dreamer. Growing up in Alcanzeh surrounded by her sisters in the Temple of Night, Indir has always been protected. Her gift to Dream truth earns her respect both within the temple and the city beyond.

But change is coming and this cycle will end in chaos before another can begin.

With the king’s death Indir’s gift is a threat to Alcan–the king’s heir intent on dismantling the kingdom’s traditions and rituals–especially those surrounding the Dreamers.

Saya is a seer. She walks the Dreaming but she is not one of the revered Dreamers. Instead she travels from village to village with her calculating mother only staying long enough for Saya’s mother to explore her gift and get everything they can before moving on. Saya knows her mother is hiding things from her, but this unmoored life is also the only one she has ever known.

As Indir and Saya search for answers, both young women creep ever closer to the chaos and danger that threatens from all sides. When everything they know is threatened, both Indir and Saya will have to choose between staying to fight and running to survive in The Lost Dreamer (2022) by Lizz Huerta.

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The Lost Dreamer is Huerta’s debut novel and the start of a duology inspired by ancient Mesoamerican mythology. The story alternates between Indir and Saya’s first person narrations offering different perspectives on both the kingdom and Dreaming.

With readers dropped into the middle of the action, The Lost Dreamer is a fast-paced fantasy filled with surprising twists and high stakes. The less you know about how the pieces fit together, the more satisfying all of Huerta’s reveals will be. Themes of female solidarity and friendship play well against the matrilineal history underpinning this richly developed world. Recommended.

Possible Pairings: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee, The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco, Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu, The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields

Magic Lessons: A Review

Magic Lessons by Alice HoffmanEngland, 1664. Hannah Owens finds a baby in the woods, wrapped in a blue blanket her name, Maria, embroidered along the side. She brings the girl home and raises her as her own, teaching her the Nameless Arts–the herbs to help ease pain, the best way to use blue thread for protection.

When Hannah is accused of witchcraft and burned to death inside her small cottage, Maria knows there is nothing left for her in England. Traveling to Curaçao as an indentured servant, Maria discovers the world is much bigger and beautiful than she first thought. At fifteen she thinks she’s fallen in love with an American businessman. But she forgets Hannah’s first lesson: love someone who will love you back.

Following Hathorne to Salem, Massachusetts irrecvocably changes Maria’s path forever when heartbreak and fear lead her to invoke a curse that will haunt the Owens family for centuries to come.

Every witch knows that you can make the best of fate or let it make the best of you. But Maria also knows it isn’t always so easy to do as you like without doing harm. When everything you give is returned to you threefold, Maria will have to relearn how to love freely if she wants to protect her family and her heart in Magic Lessons (2020) by Alice Hoffman.

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Magic Lessons is a prequel to Hoffman’s now classic novel Practical Magic. This novel focuses on the first Owens witch, Maria, and the advent of the family’s infamous curse. It can be read on its own without familiarity with Hoffman’s other books in this series. The story is told by an omniscient third person narrator with a close focus on Maria and an audio version that is wonderfully narrated by Sutton Foster.

The Owens family are white. Ending in Salem, Massachusetts, Maria spends a brief part of the novel in Curaçao and also in New York City (a significant location for the latter part of this novel as well as parts of The Rules of Magic.) Along the way Maria also encounters sailor Samuel Dias who is a Sephardic Jew.

Hoffman blends atmospheric settings, historical detail, and her own distinct characters to create a story filled with magic. Readers familiar with this world (or the 1998 film adaptation) might think they know how this story goes, but Magic Lessons still manages to pack in satisfying surprises.

Steeped in the practical knowledge of the Nameless Art and the enduring strength of love–both for good and for ill–Magic Lessons is a thoughtful and evocative story; a wonderful installment and a perfect introduction for new readers.

Possible Pairings: Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert, Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow, The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno, In the Shadow Garden by Liz Parker, Just Kids by Patti Smith, Among Others by Jo Walton

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop: A Review

Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle LimVanessa Yu never wanted to be a fortune teller. Which explains a lot about why she can barely control her magical ability as an adult. After years of avoiding learning more about her gift and refusing to embrace it, Vanessa is plagued by headaches in the wake of every vision and unable to avoid blurting out the fortunes she sees in any beverage that catches her eye at the most inconvenient times.

When her latest prediction of infidelity comes at her cousin’s luxe wedding, even Vanessa has to admit something needs to change.

Faster than you can say adieu, Vanessa is leaving California to to help her aunt Evelyn open a new tea shop in Paris and, hopefully, to also get a handle on her gift once and for all. Paris is filled with delicious foods, beautiful art, and possibly even romance with Mark, a handsome pastry chef.

Everyone knows that Seers are incapable of forming lasting romantic attachments. So before Vanessa can see if she and Mark have a future, she has a lot more to learn about her magical abilities in Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop (2020) by Roselle Lim.

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Lim’s sophomore novel is set in the same world as her debut Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune (read my review) which also features Evelyn Yu as an important secondary character.

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop expands the world Lim created in her debut, introducing readers to more magical elements and moving the story into a new setting. Strong world building is once again grounded in intricate descriptions of the fashions, decor, and delectable foods that Vanessa encounters during her stay in Paris alongside magical elements including Vanessa and Evelyn’s predictions as Seers–some of which are better integrated into the otherwise contemporary setting than others.

Vanessa’s efforts to understand and control her magic works well with the side plot of helping Evelyn open her shop and work against xenophobic bigotry that threatens to shutter the tea shop before it ever has a chance. As Vanessa learns more about herself, her magic, and the red strings of fate that tie people together, she also starts to realize that there is more than one kind of magic in the world–and she just might be able to take a different path.

With attempts to matchmake for her aunt and a new Parisian friend, there’s plenty of love to be found in this novel even if Vanessa’s own love interest often feels lackluster in comparison.

Romantic and filled with love, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop is ultimately a story about choosing yourself–and your own fate–no matter the cost.

Possible Pairings: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, The Heartbreak Bakery by A. R. Capetta, Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien, Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn, A Thread of Sky by Diana Fei, Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron, Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li, A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos, Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis, The Recipe Box by Vivian Shipman, Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride: A Review

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani ChokshiOnce upon a time, an heiress named Indigo found a scholar who would become her bridegroom. He’d been lost long enough by then to grow comfortable in the dark; long enough he wasn’t sure anyone could lure him out. But Indigo was never the kind of woman to turn away from a challenge.

Coming into Indigo’s world of wealth and decadence is a feast. And he is always hungry. A single moment of either madness or mystery had shaped his life. Ever since, he’d sought proof of the impossible and bent his whole life around the feeding of it.

The heiress and the scholar. It sounds like the start of a fairy tale.

For years, that was enough for the bridegroom.

Until Indigo is summoned back to her childhood home, the House of Dreams, to tend to her dying aunt–the aunt who told Indigo years ago that she was grateful for her blindness. Because she’d never have to look at Indigo ever again.

The decaying house is filled with ghosts of luxury, memories of a grandiose past. It is also filled with secrets that are impossible to ignore. And haunting memories including a girl no one wants to talk about: Azure–Indigo’s oldest and dearest friend. Azure, who no one has seen in years.

Two girls that were closer than sisters, until they weren’t. A marriage built on a foundation of secrets and the bridegroom’s promise to never look too closely at Indigo’s past. A story that, once revealed, changes everything. A fairy tale that will leave its own scars in The Last Tale of the Flower Bride (2023) by Roshani Chokshi.

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The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is Chokshi’s first adult novel. The story alternates between the bridegroom and Azure’s narratives on dual timelines as both the past and present build to a powerful finale.

Themes of privilege and agency loom large throughout the narrative as Azure is pulled into Indigo’s world of impossible wealth and status when they are both still children. The bridegroom offers a different facet of Indigo–the one main character without a narrative point of view–as their secrets and experiences of magic in both the human world and the mystical other world heavily influence their marriage.

Atmospheric descriptions and lush imagery bring Indigo’s opulent and often dangerous world to life with the plot moving inexorably forward. Both the characters and plot of The Last Tale of the Flower Bride are heavily influenced by fairy tales with allusions to classic fairy tale devices, gender flipped elements of Bluebeard and, more generally, a contemplation of what it means to engage with fairy tales as a modern girl and woman–in other words as a person typically othered or dismissed within the fairy tale sphere. This last element in particular is artfully teased out in Azure and Indigo’s changing understanding of Susan Pevensie (the Pevensie child assumed to be rejected by Narnia as she grows older) in CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia as well as in their burgeoning familiarity with the magical other world.

Filled with rich prose and vivid emotion, The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a dynamic exploration of magic and affection; a story told through the dual lenses of wonder and the mundanity that makes up both a marriage and a friendship.

Possible Pairings: Book of Night by Holly Black, The Birdcage by Eve Chase, The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab, The Death of Jane Laurence by Caitlin Starling

*An advance listening copy of the title was provided by the publisher through*

Hotel Magnifique: A Review

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. TaylorJanine “Jani” Lafayette always dreamed of a life beyond the small, idyllic village where she was born. But now, after four years of struggling to take care of herself and her younger sister Zosa in the port town of Durc, Jani dreams of quitting her job at the tannery and going back home.

When the Hotel Magnifique arrives in Durc, it feels like the answer to everything. Visiting a new destination every day, the hotel promises once-in-a-lifetime adventure and magic at every turn–with the price tag to match. Surely even working in such a place would have its own enchantments along with the chance, however slim, of one day stopping at the village Jani so foolishly left behind.

It’s a gamble Jani is willing to take. Until Zosa is hired on as a hotel singer. And Jani is not hired at all.

Following her sister is the only option but inside the hotel is nothing like Jani imagined. Instead of dazzling luxury, Jani is thrust into a world where every bit of glamour hides a dark secret. Including the horrifying unbreakable employee contracts.

Jani is determined to uncover the truth behind the hotel to free her sister and the other hotel staff. With nowhere to hide and no one to trust but Bel, a mysterious doorman with secrets–and loyalties–of his own, Jani will have to risk everything to break the hotel’s spells once and for all in Hotel Magnifique (2022) by Emily J. Taylor.

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Hotel Magnifique is Taylor’s debut novel. This standalone fantasy is set in a French-influenced world with characters of varying skin tones, body types, and sexual orientation. Jani and Zosa read as white. Bel is described as having brown skin and is bisexual.

Vibrant and richly described settings lend a sumptuous feel to this story as Jani is drawn in by the wonders of the magical hotel. The dark underside and pervasive menace of the hotel and the strange maître d’hôtel is slowly revealed with perfect pacing that amps up the tension and urgency of the story. Magical wonders contrast sharply with the grim violence of the hotel where magicians on staff are kept in line–and possibly slowly driven insane–with the removal of an eye or finger while continuing to deliver lavish illusions to hotel guests.

In a story where the backdrop and stakes gradually increase, Hotel Magnifique develops an intricate and engrossing magic system. Multifaceted characters and ample suspense further elevate this fantasy adventure.

Possible Pairings: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles, Wings of Ebony by J. Elle, Cruel Illusions by Margie Fuston, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalo, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson, The Splendor by Breeana Shields

Lost in the Moment and Found: A Review

“It’s easy to go along with a system. It’s harder to create one.”

Lost in the Moment and Found by Seanan McGuireThe first thing Antoinette “Antsy” Ricci ever lost was her father although she was so young it took a while to understand everything she lost along with him.

She lost her mother’s attention after her mother started dating a man named Tyler. She lost the safe, comfortable feeling of being at home when Tyler moved in. When her mom married Tyler she lost her last name. Then came her mother’s trust. And, worse, her own trust in her mother.

Antsy knows she doesn’t like Tyler and she knows–in a way she can’t explain–that something bad is going to happen if she stays in the same house as him.

So she runs.

She finds a door to a shop that looks cozy and safe and out of the rain with a sign that tells her to be sure. Well, Antsy is sure she doesn’t want to stay outside and that’s enough, isn’t it?

But, of course, it’s not an ordinary door and soon Antsy understands that her life isn’t ordinary anymore either.

The Shop of Lost Things is a wondrous place filled with rows upon rows of lost items. Socks and shoes, beloved toys, even pets. Everything that is lost makes its way to the shop. But not everything gets to go back home again. Not even girls like Antsy.

Working in the shop opens any number of magical doors to Antsy leading her to fantastical worlds and a sense that even if this isn’t the life she was meant to have, it could be a life she’ll make the most of.

But nothing comes free in any world–even if no one ever tells you the cost. As Antsy learns more about the price of the magical doors, she realizes that as hard as it is to leave, it might be impossible to stay in Lost in the Moment and Found (2023) by Seanan McGuire.

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Lost in the Moment and Found is the eighth installment in McGuire’s Wayward Children series. Like most of the novellas in this series, Lost in the Moment and Found does function as standalone. Antsy first appears in Where the Drowned Girls Go (read my review) but this story is more about her backstory. As the content warning at the front of this book notes, Lost in the Moment and Found deals with grooming and adult gaslighting in the first part of the story but Antsy runs before anything happens to her.

The Shop of Lost Things offers a different take on the portal fantasy worlds featured in other volumes while also expanding the magic system behind the Doors themselves. Fans of the series will recognize several Easter Eggs throughout Antsy’s exploration of the shop as she discovers items belonging to other worlds like bone flutes and candy swords.

McGuire continues to expand the Wayward Children universe in fascinating ways as this series builds to what promises to be its next exciting adventure.

Lost in the Moment and Found is another excellent installment in a long-running series that asks readers to explore the world with wonder–so long as they’re sure.

Possible Pairings: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, The Perilous Gard by Mary Elizabeth Pope, Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Scwhab, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*

Cruel Illusions: A Review

Cruel Illusions by Margie FustonAva knows that vampires are real because her mother was murdered by one. Ava has been training to kill a vampire in revenge ever since.

Fueled by anger and an equally strong drive to protect her younger brother Parker, Ava dwells on her revenge and the scant memories she has of her parents; the fragments of wonder she can still remember from their magic act.

Ava’s mother always told her that their tricks were only illusions but if vampires exist, can’t magic also be real?

The answer is yes.

As Ava learns more about magicians who wield actual magic as easily as she conjures coin illusions, Ava discovers that there’s little difference between a vampire and a magician. Especially when the two groups have been locked in a bloody feud for millennia.

Recruited by a troupe of dangerous magicians, brings Ava closer to everything she wants: real magic, true power, and a chance to finally avenge her mother’s murder.

But first she has to win a deadly competition to prove her mettle. The closer Ava gets to victory and vengeance, the more she wonders if she’s been chasing the wrong things in Cruel Illusions (2022) by Margie Fuston.

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Cruel Illusions is Fuston’s debut novel. Main characters are white with some diversity among the supporting cast including a queer couple in Ava’s new troupe.

Ava’s hurt is palpable in her first person narration as she struggle to reconcile the potential stability of their latest foster home with the possibility that Parker is ready to move on while Ava isn’t sure she’ll ever get past finding her mother’s bloody body in the woods. This conflict makes Ava an angry, sometimes reckless narrator who is quick to run into danger and slow to realize the potential harm. Lacking the confidencet to be truly self-aware, she’s unwilling to admit her own self-destructive tendencies that drive her to seek out magicians and vampires instead of the promise of a new family. Slow pacing and evocative descriptions keep the focus on Ava and her mysterious past. As she learns more about the magicians and her own unlikely role with them, she also begins to question if making herself hard has worked to make her tough or if it has just left her brittle and prone to hurt.

The meditative pace of the story as Ava tries to decide what kind of magician–and person–she wants to be contrasts sharply with the intense action of the magical competitions and the strong sense of unease that permeates the magicians’ headquarters.

Gothic imagery, suspense, and a brooding love interest with secrets of his own in Cruel Illusions underscore the suspense and drama of this story; a perfect choice for paranormal readers looking for a story where the stakes are high (and sharp).

Possible Pairings: Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Luminaries by Susan Dennard, Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski, Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor

Wild is the Witch: A Review

Wild is the Witch by Rachel GriffinIris Gray knows how dangerous magic can be. She watched her best friend stripped of her powers after an attempt to turn her boyfriend into a witch ended in tragedy. Iris knows how lucky she was to avoid the same fate even if the aftermath of the trial left her family fractured.

Now that she and her mom are settled in Washington, Iris hasn’t told anyone about her powers. She hopes she never attracts the attention of the Witches’ Council ever again.

Keeping a low profile should be easy. Except Iris is stuck working alongside Pike Alder at her mom’s animal sanctuary. Pike is a self-proclaimed witch hater and an arrogant ornithology student interning with Iris’ mom. His two joys at work are being right and driving Iris to distraction.

It’s no wonder Iris needs a way to vent her frustrations. But what should be a harmless exercise in writing a curse she’ll never cast goes horribly wrong when an owl steals the curse and flies away. Now Iris has to track down the injured bird before her curse is unleashed and turns Pike into a witch. Unless it kills him first. Thanks to the owl, the curse would also be amplified, leading to even worse consequences for the entire region.

Traversing the Pacific Northwest looking for a bird and a curse will be hard. Doing it alongside Pike without revealing the truth will be a nightmare–especially when Iris starts to realize there might be more to Pike than she was willing to see in Wild is the Witch (2022) by Rachel Griffin.

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Wild is the Witch is a standalone witchy fantasy and Griffin’s sophomore novel. Although it also features witches, it is set in a different world than Griffin’s debut The Nature of Witches (read my review). Iris and Pike are white. Iris’s mom, recently divorced from Iris’ father, is in a relationship with another woman.

In addition to scrambling to contain her erstwhile curse, Iris struggles with anxiety throughout the novel. These depictions are handled realistically and include thoughtful coping mechanisms (including Pike repeatedly trying to provoke Iris to annoyance in order to distract her and get her out of her own head).

With most of the story set over the course of Iris and Pike’s search for the escaped owl, a lot of the narration focuses on Iris’ largely misplaced frustration with and dislike of Pike. This focus serves to underscore the scope of Iris’ reckless behavior in writing the curse to begin with and also makes a lot of the positive outcomes for her character arc feel unearned compared to the potentially severe consequences of her actions.

This story is filled with action, banter, and a few fun takes on classic romance tropes (“there’s only one tent” anyone?) but the hate to love starts so strongly in the hate front that it’s difficult to buy into Iris and Pike’s changing feelings for each other. Wild is the Witch is a fun story but the pieces never fully come together.

Possible Pairings: Flowerheart by Catherine Bakewell, The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw, Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber, Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches by Kate Scelsa,  Sweet and Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*