Friday, September 8, 2023

September Read: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna


Finally, Fall is in the air here in Iowa! After an early September heat wave it appears we're heading into more comfortable weather. Phew. I've been done with summer for a few months! 

I'm a big fan of "witchy lit". Always have been; one of my favorite books is The Witch of Blackbird Pond. The surge in novels featuring magic and witchcraft has given me plenty to choose from, and this novel is one I've had on my radar for a bit. 

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this novel. It's definitely what I'd call a cozy light fantasy/romance novel. Yes, one of those novels that don't quite fit neatly into one category. It has the feel of a few other novels I've read in the recent past: The House in the Cerulean Sea and Legends and Lattes. Cozy reads where the characters are all likable, there are no dramatic horrible plot twists, and they leave you with a sigh of happiness. In other words, novels that don't twist your heart or send it into palpitations. A perfect read after a long day.

Mika Moon is a witch. She's darn good at potions. She's also young, single, and alone. That's the way it is with witches; they have to stay under the radar and are absolutely not allowed to show their magic or be friends. It's a dangerous world out there, even if it's today's world. And sadly, witches have been cursed: any witch who has a child is not long for the world. Witches become orphans rather early in life. Mika struggles with being alone. She longs for friends, a steady relationship with a man, and a place to call home. 

Mika's YouTube channel where she creates potions--all done in a way that leads people to think it's special effects--draws the attention of Ian, an older man who lives in a home tucked away in the countryside. Along with Ian, there's his husband Ken, Lucie the housekeeper, and Jamie the handsome but cranky librarian. And three little girls who are all witches, and not in control of their magic. Ian sends Mika a message, wanting to hire her to help the girls control their magic before the family solicitor visits in December. If he arrives and something wonky happens, they will be in trouble. After all, no one can know witches or magic exist. How Ian and crew know about magic is one of the major storylines. 

Mika arrives with Circe her dog, a koi pond, and a greenhouse--all neatly tucked into her car. Magic is a wonderful thing when you're moving. She's a bit leery of this opportunity, but decides to accept the job and moves into the home and begins to teach the three girls: Rosetta, Terracotta, and Altamira. And this is where the magic does truly happen.

Mika has found her family, but it's a bit of a rough go as trust issues, childhood trauma, and a few secrets lie in the way of a happy resolution. Loneliness is a key theme in this novel. People need people, and people need a place to call home. Mika has found just those people to be her family, along with her home--she just has a bit of work to do to reach that happy ending. And Jamie--oh, the sparks fly between them! 

The authors description of magic as a living thing that has moods, along with the physical description of it as shimmery gold mists that swirl around was one of my favorite parts of the novel, as well as Mika's absolute joy as a witch who fully embraces her magic. All of the characters are delightful, and make this novel the perfect read for a Fall evening--and most definitely break out the tea! 

Rating: 5/6 for a lovely cozy novel about the magic of home, the magic of the world around us, and the magic of finding your people. 

This book is available in paperback, ebook, and audio book. 

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