[A quick note: I admit, I wanted to read this book because of the cover. I saw the cover and immediately fell in love. I’m a sucker for florals, what can I say. I didn’t buy a copy though, since it only comes in paperback. I might when the second book comes out…maybe?]
“𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐧’𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐝. 𝐈𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐛𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐝.” —Hazel Beck
When Emerson’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 they’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 “who” 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.
I’m a big fan of small town vibes. St. Cyprian is a small witchy town at the confluence of two rivers in Missouri. It’s ruled by the “Joywood” 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 “magic-dim,” which is basically a derogatory way of saying “magically stupid” and in other words, powerless However, turns out, Em wasn’t. She was just a late bloomer. Going against the Joywood in any way is means for a memory wipe, exile, or worse—death. While dark magic is the “villain” in the story, the Joywood are definitely the antagonists.
I loved seeing Em’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 “coven” in the best way. This was my second favorite aspect of the book.
The other thing I liked was Em’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 didn’t become the head of St. Cyprian’s chamber of commerce by sitting on her arse all day. No, she’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 Em’s character. At first, I really liked it. I loved that Em’s character was a strong, female with an “I don’t need a man” kind of attitude. Heck yes! I agree! But as the book wore on, her “screw the patriarchy” 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 don’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 but…it could have been toned down and still made a strong point.
The other negative I had was the romance. Maybe i’m being too harsh. I enjoyed it—don’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 “I’m trying really hard not to write any details about the actual sex,” kind of way. There was also a lack of…intensity? feels? between the love interests? Like, I didn’t feel as strongly about them as I do some love interests in other books. Sex scenes aren’t necessary for a good romance plot. I prefer them, but I can get by without them, as long as there’s enough banter and tension between the love interests to captivate me. There was some, but…it didn’t make up for the lack of detail in the sex scenes as it should have. And come on, I don’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 “rom-com” but I’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 didn’t feel very “comedic.” 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 book’s fault. Just the marketers missing the mark.
Again, I’m nitpicking here because those couple of things kinda annoyed me, but they didn’t hurt the book beyond taking it down a notch. I’m sure there are readers didn’t mind as much, and gave it higher ratings. Will I pick up the second? Yes! I definitely want to see what happens next. I’m actually hoping the next will be from one of the other character’s POVs. I think that would be fun.
𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟒/𝟓⭐️