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Small Town, Big Magic

[A quick note: I admit, I wanted to read this book because of the cover. I saw the cover and immediately fell in love. Iโ€™m a sucker for florals, what can I say. I didnโ€™t buy a copy though, since it only comes in paperback. I might when the second book comes outโ€ฆmaybe?]

โ€œ๐€๐ง๐ ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ข๐ง๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐จ๐ง๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐œ๐š๐งโ€™๐ญ ๐›๐ž ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐š๐ง๐ง๐ž๐. ๐ˆ๐ญ ๐ก๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ ๐›๐ž ๐ ๐ซ๐š๐›๐›๐ž๐ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐š๐ฏ๐จ๐ซ๐ž๐.โ€ โ€”Hazel Beck

When Emersonโ€™s magic flares to life, she discovers that her small Missouri town is filled with witches. Not only that, her best friends are witches too and theyโ€™ve been hiding it for ten years. What a shock! A darkness is rising over the river, and Em must band together with her friends, go against the rules of the ruling coven, and save the town before the rivers rise to swallow the world.

This story has small town vibes, a strong female heroine, found family, and romance. I wanted something witchy on the lighter side and it was exactly that. My favorite aspect of this story was the witchy world building. The types of magic each witch possesses, making them โ€œwhoโ€ they are, and the politics behind it. There are historian witches, guardians, warriors, healers, etc. I loved seeing a strong female in her late twenties discover she has magic, learn that the last ten years were a lie, and figure out how to navigate these new truths, come to terms with them, then conquer them.

Iโ€™m a big fan of small town vibes. St. Cyprian is a small witchy town at the confluence of two rivers in Missouri. Itโ€™s ruled by the โ€œJoywoodโ€ coven, which is the ruling coven of all witchdom. This happens to be the coven that memory-wiped Emerson ten years prior, when she was pronounced โ€œmagic-dim,โ€ which is basically a derogatory way of saying โ€œmagically stupidโ€ and in other words, powerless However, turns out, Em wasnโ€™t. She was just a late bloomer. Going against the Joywood in any way is means for a memory wipe, exile, or worseโ€”death. While dark magic is the โ€œvillainโ€ in the story, the Joywood are definitely the antagonists.

I loved seeing Emโ€™s found family take on the Joywood and the darkness over the confluence in the rivers. I really liked all of the side characters, especially. Each one brought something different, making them a โ€œcovenโ€ in the best way. This was my second favorite aspect of the book.

The other thing I liked was Emโ€™s character. Her personality type is one I relate to. Spreadsheets, charts, PowerPoints, with a take charge attitude and nightly meetings to ensure everyone is doing what they need to be doing. She didnโ€™t become the head of St. Cyprianโ€™s chamber of commerce by sitting on her arse all day. No, sheโ€™s a hard worker with a planner and stickers! Someone I can absolutely relate to on sooooo many levels.

Now, on to my negatives. I had a couple with this book. The first was the in your face feminism we see nonstop from Emโ€™s character. At first, I really liked it. I loved that Emโ€™s character was a strong, female with an โ€œI donโ€™t need a manโ€ kind of attitude. Heck yes! I agree! But as the book wore on, her โ€œscrew the patriarchyโ€ attitude became so repetitive that it started pulling me out of pivotal moments in the book. It became a distraction rather than a strength. It got annoying. I donโ€™t need you to tell me how shitty the patriarchy is for the umpteenth time. I heard you the first time. Get to the action!! I get that this was her character trait butโ€ฆit could have been toned down and still made a strong point.

The other negative I had was the romance. Maybe iโ€™m being too harsh. I enjoyed itโ€”donโ€™t get me wrong. But it felt like the author was trying to blatantly sexual scenes and interactions. The scenes were fade to black, yes, but in a โ€œIโ€™m trying really hard not to write any details about the actual sex,โ€ kind of way. There was also a lack ofโ€ฆintensity? feels? between the love interests? Like, I didnโ€™t feel as strongly about them as I do some love interests in other books. Sex scenes arenโ€™t necessary for a good romance plot. I prefer them, but I can get by without them, as long as thereโ€™s enough banter and tension between the love interests to captivate me. There was some, butโ€ฆit didnโ€™t make up for the lack of detail in the sex scenes as it should have. And come on, I donโ€™t need a lot of detail. Just a few added sentences. If those scenes had been a little more detailed, it would have compensated for that extra layer missing. Too bad.

Oh, and one other thing. This book was marketed as โ€œrom-comโ€ but Iโ€™m warning you, it did not read like a rom com. It was on the lighter side, but still felt like a very serious book. I only chuckled maybe once or twice?? It didnโ€™t feel very โ€œcomedic.โ€ And the romance was definitely more in the background compared to Em discovering her magic, learning to use it, and saving the town.

It felt like misleading marketing. Not the bookโ€™s fault. Just the marketers missing the mark.

Again, Iโ€™m nitpicking here because those couple of things kinda annoyed me, but they didnโ€™t hurt the book beyond taking it down a notch. Iโ€™m sure there are readers didnโ€™t mind as much, and gave it higher ratings. Will I pick up the second? Yes! I definitely want to see what happens next. Iโ€™m actually hoping the next will be from one of the other characterโ€™s POVs. I think that would be fun.

๐Œ๐˜ ๐‘๐€๐“๐ˆ๐๐†: ๐Ÿ’/๐Ÿ“โญ๏ธ


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