All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Coven by Lizzie Fry

I am thrilled to share my review for this wonderful book that is one of Amber’s favourites on the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf, The Coven by Lizzie Fry. Scroll down to found out why.

Book Review: The Coven by Lizzie Fry

The Coven by Lizzie Fry

Title: The Coven

Author: Lizzie Fry

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Genre: Fantasy, witchlit and thrillers

Release date: 25th Feb 2021

Blurb

‘A compelling, prescient tale of an alternate world with far too many scary similarities to our own.’ Angela Clarke

Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.

My Thoughts

I consumed this book in a day, but if I hadn’t got other things going on, I would have read it within hours. Full of magical action, fear and twists, I did not want to put it down. This dystopian novel set in our time has the feel of the Handmaid’s Tale but with the added element of witchcraft. Misogyny goes a step further and sees all women as evil, and potentially part of terrorist group if they have dealings with magic, tarot and crystals, etc. There are three types of witches – kitchen witches who can denounce their magic, crystal witches who can only perform magic when boosted by crystals so are contained in specialist camps in caves and the most feared, the Elementals. As someone who is fascinated by magic, owns several packs of tarot cards and is known to casting a good luck spell now and then, this book was disturbing. It made me feel vulnerable reading it.

It follows Chloe, an Elemental who comes into her magic with devastating results and Adalita, a crystal witch who escapes jail with the help of a rogue Sentinel, as they try to evade capture. It is an international thriller but the primary setting is one of my favourite places, Boscastle in Cornwall. It made me long to visit and when I do, knowing the connection to this story will make it more special. It is a story of friendship, and it highlights the power of women when fighting towards a common cause. The chemistry between the characters was a joy to read.

Would I recommend?

Yes! With magical explosions, conspiracy theories, twists and high tension, this highly visual novel is a thrill to read. The recent political events only adds to the tension, and it shows how political spin and control can divide families, communities and countries with horrifying results. It is a must if you love witchy books or a dystopian novel with a twist. I can’t wait to have a physical copy on my own forever shelf. Thank you Little Brown Books for my advanced copy to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

The Coven by Lizzie Fry

Happy reading and take care!

Love

All about Books, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

#LoveMyLibaryWeek An Enchanted Library

Its Love My Library week so I want to reveal one of The Enchanted Emporium secrets.

An example of a much loved little library

Inspired by the wonderful small free libraries she saw online, Amber dragged out a small cabinet she found in the depths of the Emporium’s stock room into the Witch’s Yard. Her aim was to share recommended books with those with magical leanings to help them learn their craft when funds were low, but it grew to include any book she, Willow or Rosa adored. The only clause they discovered was the book needed a magical or supernatural thread. Without it, the book would leap from the shelf and ricochet across the yard to the nearest puddle, and the cabinet has its own impeccable taste. Rosa tried to sneak in much loved non-magic orientated books with horrifying consequences. I cannot say it that no books were hurt during her experiments. On one occasion a novel burst into flames and no, I will not say the title as it would be cruel to the book and the author. 

The cabinet is possessive over an illustrated copy of A Christmas Carol, allowing only some to borrow to take it away. There have been reports of the book placing itself on top of the borrowers reading pile and appearing near them and nudging them if ignored. Once read, it finds its own way home. Borrowing it has become a badge of honour; not only because of the worthiness of the person but who has the nerve to live with such an impatient novel. 

It’s favourites are those by Alice Hoffman including Magic Lessons, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow, The Castle Clair witch series by Sharon Booth, and Beltane by Alys West.

Books for all age groups are welcome. The other day a young child added Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, and the cabinet’s sigh of happiness drifted into the store for all to hear. If you have read or watched the film, I’m sure you would understand why. 

Over time, I will share reviews of some books it has on the shelves. Some of these include The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman, Threadneedle by Cari Thomas and The Ultimate Guide to the Witch’s Wheel of the Year by Anjou Kiernan. And I’d love your recommendations of books you love, and you think would impress this small witch library and Black Cat who guards it. 

Take care of yourself and love your library. Happy writing, reading, and stay safe!

Love

P.S Thank you A Little Book Problem for your help this week.

Characters, Writing journey

Welcome to The Enchanted Emporium

My last post of January was going to focus on the positives of 2020 and lockdown, but the grim milestone UK has surpassed and the daily stomach punching figures of deaths caused by covid floored me. I can’t do it. Not yet. The grief for a friend lost hurts too much to celebrate the good of the last year, so I’m introducing you to the place I escape to when things get rough, and a glimpse into my world of magic — The Enchanted Emporium.

The Enchanted Emporium

The Enchanted Emporium as painted by Jess Titcombe

 Away from the hustling streets in Whitby’s Old town and under the watchful eye of the Abbey lies a small, bulging old Apothecary. Finding it isn’t easy. You won’t find it on a map but if you need it your instinct and the occasional black cat will lead you to a hidden snicket where an old gas lamp illuminates a courtyard and beckons you forward.

Place:              The Enchanted Emporium

Address:         

Black Cat Alley

Fenwick’s Yard or Witch’s Yard to the locals

Whitby

North Yorkshire

Proprietor: Willow Anderson

Staff:

Rosa Jones

Amber Michaels

Ghosts:

Black Cat or BC Owned by the original witch of Whitby, territorial and reluctant to leave his home. Reported sightings were recorded before the18th century.

Old Percy the old hunched over apothecary resides in the store with his endless tasks and wealth of knowledge Willow would love to hear if only he would speak.

The Marleys death could not break the depth of the love of this married couple. Mrs Marley is an opinionated, gossip and meddles in death as she did in life. Protective of those she loves and has a soft spot for RomComs on the telly.

Mr Marley is elusive and rarely seen except to grab his wife away from overstepping the line in her meddlings.

The unknown on the stairs – a cold patch and feeling of unease whose story is yet to be revealed.

The powerful presence in The Cobble. Believed to be the original witch of Whitby, her story is as older than the shop and has been lost over time, but her magic is the pulse of the store and land. 

The Cobble

A witch’s workroom full of ancient books and tools and was uncovered during the emporium’s renovation and kept locked. The power and the history it holds radiates through the cracks of the door. It gives Willow the collywobbles just walking by. Amber drawn to its mystery and longs to be allowed inside.

The Enchanted Emporium specialises in lotions, potions, witchcraft supplies and blends of tea. Famed for The Wishing Spell range, which are everyday lotions and candles with a magical twist, and social media sensation, a ginger Maine Coon named Vincent.

With every purchase, by one of the witches chooses a complimentary tea blend. Are you prepared to drink it and be guided in ways you least expect?

I hope you enjoyed discovering more about The Enchanted Emporium. I will share more insights into the world in the future but for now take care and stay safe.

Jess’ Etsy shop is here and her website is here for more of her artwork and commissions.

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Once and future witches by Alix E. Harrow

My plan was to shout about this last month as part of the witchy Halloween take over but life had other ideas so I am happy to share my delayed review for Once and Future Witches by Alix. E Harrow.

Book Review: Once and future witches by Alix E. Harrow

Title: Once and future witches

Author: Alix E. Harrow

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

Release date: 15th October 2020

Blurb

‘The Once and Future Witches is a gorgeous and thrilling paean to the ferocious power of women’ Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of Strange the Dreamer

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Praise for The Once and Future Witches:

‘A brilliant dazzle of a book . . . I devoured it in enormous gulps, and utterly loved it’ Kat Howard, author of The Unkindness of Ghosts

‘Compelling, exhilarating and magical – a must read’ Booklist (starred review)

‘Delightful . . . a tale of women’s battle for equality, of fairy tales twisted into wonderfully witchy spells, of magics both large and small, and history re-imagined’ Louisa Morgan, author of A Secret History of Witches

‘A love letter to folklore and the rebellious women of history’ Publishers Weekly

‘A breathtaking book – brilliant and raw and dark and complicated’ Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars

My Thoughts

This novel blew me away and I’m in awe of the prose, vivid storytelling and unusual, powerful characters. The three Eastwood sisters drew me into their story like the witchcraft they practise and they refused to let me go. Forget sleep, chores and reality, I had to read as long as I could. It is a book for a lazy, indulgent weekends where you have no distractions.

Blending the suffragette movement with women fighting for the vote with a movement to release witching from its shackles so women are empowered is clever, powerful and urges the reader to read more. The characters of the Eastwood sisters are so well developed they leap of the page and the descriptions of location make the story form a movie in the mind. The twists and turns along with the love, anger and hate the sisters encounter as they find their way to Avalon make this book unforgettable.

The conclusion is unexpected but is perfect.

Would I recommend?

Yes, yes, yes. This is my favourite book of the year for its powerful storytelling, unique characters, vivid imagery and theme. If you love books that are different, witchy or highlight the strength of women when challenged this is a must. It would make a fantastic series, but like all things, nothing can beat the insight you gain from the written word; it left me wanting more.

I am grateful to Little Brown Books for the advanced copy so I could give my honest, unbiased opinion. This is one of those books I would have missed if it had not been brought to my attention and the world would have been a little bit greyer without.

Have you read it? I would love to know what you thought, comment below.

Take care and happy reading!

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

My first witchy book review is Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman. As soon as I read she was writing a prequel Practical Magic explaining the origin of the Owen curse, the countdown to publication was on. After reading Rules of Magic last year, I fell in love with her prose and the Owen family. I was thrilled to be given an ARC to review via NetGalley. Read on to see if it was worth the wait.

If like me you love listening to interviews with authors talking about their books, read on for a gem of a chat.

Book Review: Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Title: Magic Lessons

Author: Alice Hoffman

Genre: magic realism, adult fiction

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, Scribner UK

Release date: 6th Oct 2020

Purchase link: Amazon

Blurb

Where does the story of the Owens family begin? With a baby abandoned in a snowy field in the 1600s. Under the care of Hannah Owens, little Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows.

When Maria is abandoned by the man she loves, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s is here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters

My Thoughts

Despite my excitement I was anxious to begin this novel in case my high expectations were unfounded and there are times I struggle to read historical fiction, which this is. I need not have worried; the arrival of Maria into Hannah Owen’s life captivated me, and I remained in her world for hours; I did not want to stop reading.

Maria’s early carefree childhood with Hannah was a joy to read and connected me to her and Cadin, making the rest of the book an emotional ride as she travels across the globe to end up in Salem, Massachusetts. As a reader, you know the danger she will face when she blindly believes she will be fine. This knowledge added to the tension. The novel is short on dialogue which surprised me because it is a rare these days but I found I did not miss it because of Alice Hoffman’s talent for setting the scene, her magical prose and the observations of love in all its guises. The study of love with its joy and dangers is the core of this novel; it brings lightness, warmth, darkness, and destruction.

It is a well-researched historical fiction as seen in the lists of herbs, and spells written in the Owen’s grimoires and highlights the prejudice against women who are different and do not follow the social constructs created by men and the dangers they faced.

I have not read Practical Magic yet, and it is years since I watched the film, so my memory of her story was vague. I would be interested to hear what others with a firmer grounding of the curse think of Maria’s tale and the origin of the curse. Though this book is part of a series, you can easily read it as a standalone.

Would I recommend?

Alice Hoffman is a queen of magical storytelling, making Magic Lessons a pleasure to read. This emotional novel has depth, and I came away with the desire to wear my red boots with pride and the lessons of the Owens are tattooed in my heart. The observations of love in all its forms were what I needed to hear. It will be on my forever bookshelf with the rest of the series, ready for a reread and will inspire my own writing. Alice Hoffman’s shows how a novel involving witches and magic can be successful and loved in the mainstream.

Interview with Alice Hoffman about Magic Lessons

As promised an interview with Alice Hoffman discussing this book. I hope you enjoy.

Thank you Simon and Schuster via NetGalley for an advanced copy so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love