Timy reviews The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, a standalone Fantasy Romance novel by Sangu Mandanna.
|Series: standalone||Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary|
|Date of Publishing: August 23, 2022||Trigger Warnings: –|
|Page count: 336||Publisher: Hodder & Sloughton|
Possible The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts:
- Free Your Mind
- Are You Gonna Be My Girl
- Mindenütt Jó (Anywhere is Good)
- Teenage Dirtbag
- Middle Fingers
- Family Portrait
- I’ll Be There
- Daughters of Darkness
- Cotton Eye Joe
A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family—and a new love—changes the course of her life.
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….
Look, I know Beautiful by Sunrise Avenue is cheesy AF, but I like this song, and I think it has the right message for this book.
I’ve been eyeing The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches for a while now, but I was a bit cautious because it came hyped, and I’m always wary of hyped books. But when people who usually don’t like romance say it’s very good indeed, you can’t help but look forward to picking that book up. That said, I had expectations for Sangu Mandanna‘s Romantic Fantasy novel, but I still didn’t expect to love it as much as I did.
Mika Moon currently lives in Brighton, changing places every six months or so, the only constancy in her life are the meetings with other witches every three months on the last Thursday, her dog, her koi pond, and her online witchy videos where she can be herself without actually exposing herself, thinking she is safe. And yet, those videos are the reason she finds her life turned upside down. Nowhere House and its residents make her reconsider everything she ever thought about magic, witches, and eventually herself. She learns a lot about the different forms of love, and what it means to belong in a family. I have something for the found family trope and The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a rather excellent example of how to do it really well.
There aren’t too many characters, which gives enough space for them all to shine. Maybe not as much as I’d have liked in many cases (Ken and Lucy got less page time, sadly) – look, I wanted this book to be twice as long, okay? – but still enough for us to get a good idea about them. I especially liked the kids, all three girls with very distinct personalities and ways of approaching Mika’s arrival. And the way, in turn, how Mika handled them, despite not having much experience with children. It still was heartwarming to follow their budding relationship. Ian brought humor into the mix, with his mischievous personality and insistence on playing matchmaker.
This brings us to Jamie, the librarian who – like the others – found his home at Nowhere house after he left his family behind in Belfast. And who is very, very protective of said home and the people in it. I think it’s probably him I liked least of all the characters, although I’m not sure why. I usually do like grumpy guys with an attitude. However, I did like how Mika and Jamie built a tentative friendship after their rocky start.
My favorite was Mika for sure, it was just so easy to love her sunny personality and sense of humor. I wanted to be best friends with her. I could very well sympathize with her as we learned more about her past and why she lives the way she does. Why she prefers keeping a distance from people and building a wall around herself and especially her heart. Can’t say I agreed with her every decision, but it was clear why she reacted the way she did in situations.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches won’t upend the world, nor will revolutionize either the fantasy or romance genres as it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The plot is mostly predictable, and the characters although very likable, are slightly less fleshed out than I’d like. And yet, I couldn’t help but feel absolutely charmed by this witchy novel set in modern-day England. There wasn’t unnecessary melodrama, nor was the romance in center stage. It was something that developed naturally along with the main plot. Thanks to the writing – and not least to the narrator of the audiobook, Samara MacLaren – it was easy to imagine myself walking beside Mika, and immerse myself in a world where witches are real, even if that’s not an easy life. But then, whose is? I’d still prefer to be able to use spells and brew potions and do all kinds of awesome stuff like collecting star shavings, thank you very much.
Ultimately, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches turned out to be the big cozy blanket I hoped it would be, a warm and familiar hug needed on cold winter days. Very highly recommended if you are after something uncomplicated yet heartwarming and uplifting. It surely will become one of my comfort reads.
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