Illusionary by Zoraida Cordova – A Review

Hi! It’s been a while. I’ve fallen into a creative slump, and then it was my birthday (I turned 28!) so this review is a few days late.

Illusionary by Zoraida Cordova
  • Publication date: May 11th 2021
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Genre: Fantasy

Reeling from betrayal at the hands of the Whispers, Renata Convida is a girl on the run. With few options and fewer allies, she’s reluctantly joined forces with none other than Prince Castian, her most infuriating and intriguing enemy. They’re united by lofty goals: find the fabled Knife of Memory, kill the ruthless King Fernando, and bring peace to the nation. Together, Ren and Castian have a chance to save everything, if only they can set aside their complex and intense feelings for each other.

With the king’s forces on their heels at every turn, their quest across Puerto Leones and beyond leaves little room for mistakes. But the greatest danger is within Ren. The Gray, her fortress of stolen memories, has begun to crumble, threatening her grip on reality. She’ll have to control her magics–and her mind–to unlock her power and protect the Moria people once and for all.

For years, she was wielded as weapon. Now it’s her time to fight back.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Incendiary took me a while to get properly into and I really didn’t like Renata as a main character. I still enjoyed the book, especially some of the supporting characters and the world and magic system. After finishing it, I was looking forward to learning more about everything – I didn’t quite realise it was a duology. That being said, I think Illusionary wrapped up the story quite well, and it was a satisfying conclusion.

While the first book focused more on the rebellion and had Renata confused about her powers, alliances and love life, and therefore annoying, Illusionary focuses more on her character growth and the magic, which is definitely the strongest aspect of this series. It definitely made me like her more as a character – I think she grew into the person she was meant to be from the very first page, the powerful and badass woman, and she really realised where she belonged.
My favourites remain Leo and Castian, though. Honestly, if the story revolved around those 2 and Lady Nuria from the first book, I think those would easily be 5 star reads.

This book was fast paced and exciting. So much happened in this installment, but it didn’t feel rushed. We found out a lot about the world, how and why the rebellion started. It was a perfect mix of action, character development and back story. And it all led to a satisfying conclusion.

I really enjoyed Illusionary and I’m looking forward to picking up more by Zoraida Cordova in the future. I think, although YA fantasy has a lot to offer that is similar to this story in plot, this duology is definitely worth a read, as Cordova’s voice is distinctive and strong.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Will you be picking up this duology? Or have you read it already? What did you think?

Thank you for reading. Talk soon!

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon – A Review

Hi!

Happy (UK) publication date to Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon! I’m very excited to be sharing this review with you.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
  • Publication date: May 6th 2021
  • Publisher: Merky Books
  • Genre: Fantasy

Vern – seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised – flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future – outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with and audio ARC of this book in exchange for and honest review.

I’m not sure how to approach writing this review. I’ve never read anything by Solomon, I had no idea at all what to expect, apart from the short and somewhat vague blurb. I had no expectations, other than hope that I would enjoy it. The experience of reading this book surpassed all the expectations I could’ve had.

Sorrowland is not an easy book, nor a book that is for everyone. I’ve realised recently that I enjoy “weird” books – books that don’t fit a specific genre, ones that do unconventional things with the plot, narration or the characters. This is exactly what Sorrowland did. Solomon touches on so many issues in this book, and although the story itself is speculative, the issues very much apply to our real world. It is brutal, honest and talks about race, identity, sexuality, gender and so much more.

I loved the writing. After reading Sorrowland, I swiftly added all of the other books by the author to my TBR. It was lyrical, without sounding pretentious; incredibly atmospheric and beautiful, even the horrifying and brutal parts.

Vern was a really strong and interesting character. I enjoyed following her throughout the story as she learned about who she was and what Cainland did to her. I really liked her children, too, and the relationship they had. Well developed familial relationships are something I love in books, no matter the genre.

I’ve seen people complain about how slow the middle of the book was, but I couldn’t disagree more. I think Solomon paced the story really well, and it flowed naturally. It was a perfect blend of action and character development. I found the book interesting all throughout.

The only thing about Sorrowland I didn’t enjoy were the overly explicit sex scenes. They didn’t ruin it for me, and I understand why the author has put them in, but I don’t ever find them necessary, and prefer the fade to black approach.

I can’t say much more without spoiling anything about the book. I think it’s best to go into it knowing very little, and watching it unfold.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you for reading! Is Sorrowland on your TBR?

Until the next time!

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock – A Review

Hello again. It is once again time for a review, although just a head up, this one will be more of a brief one, and not because I don’t have much to say about it but rather that I think too much would spoil the experience of reading the book.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchock
  • Publication date: April 20th 2021
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Genre: Contemporary Anthology

Come on a journey across the rural American West…

Meet the teenagers who live in the small towns across these states, separated by distance, but whose stories are woven together in the most unexpected of ways.

Whether they are brought together by the spread of wildfire, by the abusive priest who’s moved from state to state or by the hunt for a missing child, these incredible tales blaze with secrets, rage and love.

A novel like no other, this intricate, intense and beautiful book will take your breath away.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t have very many thoughts about this book other that it’s one of the best ones I read this year.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town is a collection of short stories from multiple POVs of various teenagers, which connect through characters and situations, creating an overarching story of what life in a small town is like. They’re very short and talk about many different subjects, and you slowly discover connections between every single one of them, and it’s honestly fascinating seeing how it comes full circle.

The misconception about small towns is that of no anonymity and no secrets, as everyone knows each other. This book proves that isn’t exactly true, and life in a small town is still full of secrets, lies, heartbreak and everything else that life itself has to offer. Both good and bad things happen. The people you thought you knew might not be who you thought they were all this time. This book comes with some difficult subjects, some trigger warnings – it’s definitely not sunshine and rainbows. But it is so worth a read.

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town left me with a heavy feeling in my chest. Not many books can manage that. It’s one I think you need to go into somewhat blind and discover things for yourself. I really really enjoyed it and now I wanna read everything by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, as this was my first book by this author.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading!

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson – A Review

Hello! Every Vow You Break releases tomorrow in Ireland and UK, and next week in the US, which means it’s time for a review!

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson
  • Publication date: March 18th 2021
  • Publisher: Faber Faber
  • Genre: Thriller

Abigail Baskin was in her early twenties – working two jobs to make rent on the crummy apartment she shared with two strangers, saddled with crippling student loan debt, and nursing a secret desire to become a novelist – when she met Bruce Lamb.

A freshly-minted tech millionaire from Silicon Valley, Bruce is completely genuine, completely generous, and completely in love with Abigail. On their third date, he told her he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Six months later, he asked her to marry him. It was a fairytale romance.

But now, three days before the wedding, Abigail had a received an unsettling email. And she has no idea that this email signals the beginning of a nightmare she may never escape.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I’m very rarely blown away by thrillers and I’ve accepted that a long time ago. I’ve read from Peter Swanson in the past and enjoyed the writing and plot, so I was delighted to receive and arc of this book.

Every Vow You Break is about Abigail, who’s about to marry a millionaire and ends up having a one night stand on her bachelorette’s weekend away. She decides to move on and forget about it until the day she leaves for her honeymoon and finds out the man she slept with has followed her and her husband. What follows is definitely NOT what you expect.

Or maybe it just wasn’t what I personally expected from the book. I am usually pretty good at calling the ending early or halfway through, and the predictability of the plot is not something I dislike in thrillers, because being able to predict things means it all makes sense. However, that also usually means that even though it might be enjoyable, the read won’t score anything above 3-4 stars.

Every Vow You Break falls into the 3 star category, because even though it surprised me, I didn’t find it too believable or… thrilling. I definitely liked the first 3/4 of the book more than I liked the ending. Abigail was an interesting protagonist and I quite enjoyed her voice. The plot itself was promising, I really liked the idea and the direction it took until the very plot twist. And the honeymoon destination, though nice on the surface, was honestly quite unsettling, with it being an island cut away from the world, with no mobile phones and largely populated by men.

Swanson’s writing didn’t disappoint. I’ve noticed similarities in the structure of this book and the other novel I read by him, The Kind Worth Killing, and I quite enjoy the way he tells stories and his plot twists. It does make the read more predictable, as you expect plot twists at certain points of the book, but I don’t think it’s something thriller readers mind.

Overall, this was a fun, quick read and although I enjoyed it, I wish it did some things differently. If you liked other Swanson’s books, I’m sure you will enjoy this one just as much. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Thank you for reading. Will you be picking up the book once it releases?

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman – A Review

Hi! Happy Tuesday. It’s review time!

I usually post reviews ARC reviews on the publication date but it does make a bit more sense to post them before, to give people time to decide whether the book is for them or not, right? From now on I might try to aim to post a week in advance. So, here we are.

Game Changer by Neal Schusterman
  • Publication date: February 9th 2021
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Genre: Sci-fi

All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it.

Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own.

The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes.

And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

After reading and loving Schusterman’s Scythe trilogy, I was very excited to pick up this new release by him. Sci-fi is my jam and alternate realities a buzzword that alone makes me want to read a book, and with the pleasant previous experience with the author – I thought it was a recipe for a success.

I did like the general idea and premise for the book. Although I know nothing about football, nor do I have a clue how the game works, other than people slamming into each other, the sport part of the story didn’t put me off. I understood as much as I needed – Ash, the main character, gets slammed into an alternate reality during a game and things become quite messed up very fast. Sounds good.

The book was a breeze to get through. I liked the writing, the tone and the humour. Ashley was a fine protagonist, someone who’s point of view I enjoyed for most of the book. He wasn’t my favourite – that spot is dedicated to the Edwards, but I didn’t dislike him by any means. So why is the book a 3 star?

Now, I’m going to start by saying I think what Schusterman tried to do was valid and it’s needed in YA, but the way it was done just didn’t bring anything new to the table or have any particular merit in my eyes. The alternate realities bring up discussions about racism, sexism and homophobia, to describe it broadly. Yes, those issues are valid ones to talk about in YA literature and by all means should be discussed more and more, but maybe in a way that sounds less rehearsed and preachy. After all, Ash is a white, straight male in the first reality. His school is diverse racially and so is his friend circle, but he admits on many occasions how ignorant he’s been in the past and how his Black best friend called him out in those times. Ash admits that he has a lot to learn, yet we don’t see him learning much. I think the book misses the point completely and brings up issues and discussions without being willing to delve into all of them with the depth they deserve.

That being said, I didn’t dislike the book. I just think that it could’ve done more and done it better.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Have you read this one yet? Or is it on your radar?

Thank you for reading! Talk to you soon.

Wench by Maxine Kaplan – A Review

Hello, my dears! I hope you’re doing well. I’m here to talk about a book that came out today – Wench by Maxine Kaplan. Happy book birthday, Wench.

Wench by Maxine Kaplan
  • Publication date: January 19th 2020
  • Publisher: Abrams
  • Genre: Fantasy

A funny, fiercely feminist YA epic fantasy—following the adventures of a tavern wench

 

Tanya has worked at her tavern since she was able to see over the bar. She broke up her first fight at 11. By the time she was a teenager she knew everything about the place, and she could run it with her eyes closed. She’d never let anyone—whether it be a drunkard or a captain of the queen’s guard—take advantage of her. But when her guardian dies, she might lose it all: the bar, her home, her purpose in life. So she heads out on a quest to petition the queen to keep the tavern in her name—dodging unscrupulous guards, a band of thieves, and a powerful, enchanted feather that seems drawn to her. Fast-paced, magical, and unapologetically feminist, Wench is epic fantasy like you’ve never seen it before.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I got approved for this one a few months ago and was very excited to pick it up. A funny epic fantasy about a tavern wench that was, I quote, “unapologetically feminist”? Sign me up! What happened, you ask? The blurb lied…

There are many things I didn’t like about Wench. While the blurb promised so much, I didn’t find the book funny, nor particularly feminist. It was a fantasy, sure, but I wouldn’t call it epic… in any meaning of the word.

The biggest issue I had was the world building and magic system – two key elements that really shape any fantasy story. While the author clearly knew what her world was like, she didn’t educate the reader at all. There is no explanation of the world, kingdom name, basic geography, or politics. Things get mentioned every now and then in an offhand way, as if the reader should already know it all. I’m not sure if the author chose this method not to fall into the trap of “telling instead of showing”, but honestly I’d rather be told. I would appreciate a full scope of the world instead of having to guess things and piece them together.

I had the same issue with the magic system. Only the very basic info was given to us – nothing beyond the fact that magic is possible but creates “junkoff”. Can everyone do magic? Is it learned? Are you born with it? What can it actually do? No clue. It’s a fantasy novel – explain the main elements, please.

If those two were done better (I’m not even saying done right), it could’ve been a 3 star. But on top of all of this the cast of characters was just too big and hence they weren’t really developed at all. The relationships felt forced, I kept forgetting who was meant to be who because their personalities bled into one… I have nothing good to say about Tanya, or any other characters whose names I already forgot.

I think the efforts were definitely there, and people who care more about the plot in a vaguely fantastical setting would enjoy it a lot more than me. Ultimately Wench didn’t work for me, sadly, as I looked forward to what seemed like a new and fresh fantasy.

⭐⭐

Can anyone explain star rating is not a thing on the WordPress app while it is in the browser?

Anyway… thank you for reading. Don’t let my bad review stop you from reading the book if it sounds interesting to you.

Talk soon!

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus – A Review #TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour

Hi! It’s my stop on TheWriteReads tour for The Cousins by Karen M. McManus (as you can tell by the title)! This one releases in December, so keep an eye out for it – it’s a fun one!

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus
  • Publication date: December 1st 2020
  • Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
  • Genre: Mystery

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

Thank you to the publisher and Dave at TheWriteReads for a free e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Every Karen M. McManus book surprises me, and I think by now I should know and expect to enjoy them. I liked and flew through her other books, and The Cousins was no different.

The story follows 3 estranged cousins: Milly, Aubrey and Jonah, who are invited to spend a summer at their grandmother’s resort. The catch is, she disowned her own children 24 years ago and has not kept in contact with either of them since. So, why is she reaching out now?

I was pretty hooked on the premise from the get go. I really enjoy family mysteries, the more twisted ones, the better, so I was looking forward to reading it – although I kept my expectations low, because YA mysteries tend to be too predictable for me. The story really took off from the first few chapters (as it’s told from alternating POVs of the 3 cousins), though it didn’t capture me fully until the halfway point.
I enjoyed all three of the cousins’ perspectives and how different they and their circumstances were. Once the flashbacks were introduced, I started caring a lot more about the past events, though, and I wish the story focused more on the Story children, and not the grandkids. Truth be told, the mystery worked either way.

I think Karen M. McManus is really good at pacing her stories and giving the readers just enough info to keep them interested and engaged. Like with her other books, I didn’t once get bored and want to put the book down to take a break. I had fun reading it start to finish, although it wasn’t perfect by any means.

I could’ve done without the romance, but I say it every time. I know parts of it put things in motion when it comes to plot, but I think I’d enjoy it more if literally anything else happened.
Although I didn’t fully figure out where the story was going, I had a pretty good inkling how it’ll end, and the finale didn’t surprise me. It’s not always detrimental for me to be shocked by the reveal to enjoy a story, as long as the rest of the book makes up for it, and I’ll happily admit it did. I think as far as YA mysteries go, this one turned out pretty impressive.

Next time Karen M. McManus comes out with another book, I’ll try not to doubt her. She’s proven to write continuously fun and engaging stories.

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Make sure to follow TheWriteReads on Twitter and check out all the fantastic reviews from other bloggers, as this tour is a huge one.

Thank you for reading!

Fable by Adrienne Young – A Review

Hi there! I am so behind on reviews, you wouldn’t believe! But hopefully that means more content. Today I have a review for Fable by Adrienne Young, as you can guess from the title. Let’s get into it.

Fable by Adrienne Young
  • Publication date: September 1st 2020
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Genre: Fantasy

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have read from Adrienne Young before. I really loved Sky in the Deep, when I read it back in 2018. So, obviously, when I got my hands on an early copy of Fable I was delighted. I’m not sure what I expected from it, but whatever I got was not it.

The premise of Fable had me hooked. It’s pitched as a pirate story about a girl who needs to get off an island full of thieves and criminals, on which she was left by her father. All checks out. Except it’s not much of a pirate story. It’s set on a ship, yes, but it’s not your conventional pirate story.

I liked Fable as a main character at the start. That’s usually a good sign, if I like a character at the start, I usually end up loving them by the end of the book. Or at least still liking them. Fable became very bland very fast. Literally everyone else had more personality than her and I definitely cared about the side characters more than her. I didn’t dislike her by the end of the book by any means, I just didn’t think she was particularly interesting. The side characters were great, though, and I do have a bit of a soft spot for West, I’m not going to lie.

Adrienne Young’s writing is beautiful. I had no qualms with the language or narration style. I think she writes beautifully and it was one of the reasons why I continued reading the book even though I could not get into it at all at the beginning.

Which brings me to the biggest downfall of this book, in my opinion. The pacing. The book didn’t get interesting to me until the 50% mark. If not the fact I’ve gotten an arc of this book and it was on my list of most anticipated releases of 2020, I might’ve DNFed it. The first half dragged. Not much happened, or at least I felt like nothing was happening… and then BAM. Everything started happening all at once. I enjoyed the second half of the book much MUCH more, but considering how slow the first half was, it didn’t blow me away. I wish the pacing was a little bit more even.

Overall, while I quite enjoyed the book come the last page, I am on the fence on how I actually feel about it. It lands somewhere around 3.5 stars for me and I might be picking up the sequel once it’s out early next year.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Like I said – I’m behind on reviews so you can already purchase a copy of Fable if the book sounds interesting to you. Thank you for reading and as always I will talk to you soon!

The Fallen Angel by Kenneth B. Andersen – A Review

Hi! Yes, I’m back with yet another review. First of all, Happy Book Birthday to the english version of The Fallen Angel by Kenneth B. Andersen! If you’ve read the first 4 volumes and are dying to know what happens next – now you can find out!

The Fallen Angel by Kenneth B. Andersen
  • Publication date: original – 2015; English – May 28th 2020
  • Publisher: Host & Son
  • Genre: Fantasy

It’s been almost two years since Philip left Hell and returned to life—this time for good. But things have changed and so has Philip. He’s haunted by terrifying nightmares and has never felt so lonely. Lonely and angry. Then one day the impossible happens and Philip is brought back to Hell. Not by the Devil, but by the Almighty himself. Although the Great Devil War ended a long time ago, the battle is far from over—and the worst is yet to come.

Thank you to the author for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Fallen Angel is the fifth installment in The Great Devil War series, and also the second last one. Like with all of the previous books in the series, I flew through it and enjoyed it a lot, yet I did found it slightly… lacking in plot.

Philip finds himself back in Hell, though he was told during his last visit he won’t be able to go back and forth anymore. This time he’s needed by Jehovah, though why, no one knows. It’s been 1.5 years since Philip’s last visit, but as we know, time passes differently in Hell. While waiting for god t let him know why he’s been summoned, Philip wanders around Hell and sees just how much has changed, especially with Satina. It takes until over halfway through the book for the reason of Philip’s summoning to become known to us.

After the events of the war Philip is quite broken up. He doesn’t know who he is and what he’s supposed to do being back on Earth and he has no one he can talk to about it all. So, when he’s summoned back to Hell, while a lot of confusion still remains, he’s sure that this time he wants to stay. This may, or may not, have something to do with Satina.
Although reading about angsty teens is not my favourite past time (maybe because I’ve been that angsty teen), I did appreciate how this book focused on Philip’s internal struggles with his identity. Over the course of the series we’ve seen him turn from a angel of a human into a devil, then back human and it’s understandable, especially after all he’s been through, that he would be confused and lost… and angry.

I wish we got more clarity on Philip’s relationship with Satina. When he comes back to Hell, a lot of time has passed and Satina has moved on. She tells Philip, though not straight away, and no further conversation is had until it seems like Satina has decided to pick Philip, over her boyfriend. It also seems like she does not bother to tell her boyfriend. I feel like it could’ve been wrapped up more, seeing how there was time for it and it would feel less dishonest.

Like I said, for a good part of the story not much happened. I kept waiting for a big event – much like in the other installments, yet it didn’t come until the very end of the book. Though the events in the last couple of chapters made up for the lack of action throughout the book, it almost felt a filler to have some distance between the war and the finale. I still enjoyed it, though admittedly less than the others.

Overall, the story arc and the world building wins me over every time. I can’t wait to pick up the last book (it’s sadly not out in English yet) and find out how it all ends.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you for reading!

The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts – A Review

Hi! Happy Book Birthday to The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts! I’m here with a review (as you can tell from the title, and also, you know the drill… I post ARC reviews on release date). Let’s get into it!

The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts
  • Publication Date: May 26th 2020
  • Publisher: Owl Hollow Press
  • Genre: Fantasy

It’s not easy being a teenage witch. Seventh grader Abby Shepherd is just getting the hang of it when weird stuff starts happening all around her hometown of Willow Cove. Green slime bubbling to life in science class. Giant snakes slithering around the middle school gym. Her best friend suddenly keeping secrets and telling lies.

Things only begin to make sense when a stranger named Miss Winters reveals that Abby isn’t the only young witch in town—and that Willow Cove is home to a secret past that connects them all. Miss Winters, herself a witch, even offers to teach Abby and the others everything she knows about witchcraft.

But as Abby learns more about Miss Winters’ past, she begins to suspect her new mentor is keeping secrets of her own. Can Abby trust her, or does Miss Winters have something wicked planned for the young witches of Willow Cove?

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


For some reason, going into this book, I thought it was YA… it’s not. It’s most definitely MG and at that, one of the most enjoyable MG I’ve read in a while.

If you know me, you know I’m always up for a witch story. My favourite time of the year is Halloween so any spooky, magical, witchy story is right up my alley. And while The Witches of Willow Cove was not spooky, it definitely ticked all the other boxes.

The story follows Abby and Robby (have I only copped now that their names are very similar – yes!), who are best friends, and on Halloween night they go to snoop around an abandoned mental hospital, to try and solve the mystery of Robby’s mom’s disappearance, but instead they meet the new owner of the Whispering Hill, get chased off by chimeras and find out Abby can fly (none of this is a spoiler, as it happens literally in the first chapter). Needles to say, they get in a bit of trouble, especially after two more people mysteriously disappear.

The Witches of Willow Cove was a really enjoyable, fast paced and magical story. It had everything I love in MG – exciting plot, likeable characters, great atmosphere and heaps of amazing friendships.

I really liked Abby as the main character and I kind of wish the whole book was told from her perspective, instead of alternating with Robby’s. I understand Robby’s POV was important to solving the mystery, but I didn’t much care for his relationship with Becca. I very much enjoyed seeing Abby learn magic and discover secrets from the past. I loved all of Abby’s new friends (Amethyst in particular) and Zeus! They were all fun to read about and had distinct personalities.

The ending definitely had me intrigued, as it’s hinting at a series… if it is, I’ll definitely be reading future books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As always, thank you for reading! Do you enjoy Middle Grade? If yes, you should be reading this book soon!