Title: The Witch Haven (The Witch Haven #1) Author: Sasha Peyton Smith Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers Source: Purchased Format: Hardcover Release Date: August 31, 2021 Rating: ★★★★★
The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards.
In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet—her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there.
Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.
Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?
1911: Frances Hallowell is a seamstress in New York, still mourning her brother after his mysterious death months ago. When she’s attacked one night by her boss, he ends up dead with her scissors in his neck. Before she can be arrested for his murder, she’s whisked away to Haxahaven Sanatarium, which is a school for witches disguised as a tuberculosis sanatarium. Frances learns how to use some of her new found magic, but she wants to learn more. She’s lured out to the forest to meet her brother’s old friend, Finn, who promises to teach her more magic and find out who killed her brother. As Frances learns more, she must figure out what’s most important to her: Finn, her new witch friends, or discovering her brother’s murderer.
This was a great witchy story. I loved the spooky atmosphere of New York in 1911. There were people being mysteriously murdered and incurable diseases. Indigenous racism was also addressed a bit, as one of the witches at the school was abused at a residential school.
There were some great twists at the end of the story. I suspected the big one before it was revealed, but I was still surprised with how the story ended. I’m glad the sequel is out now so I can read it soon!
The Witch Haven is a great witchy story.
What to read next:
The Witch Hunt by Sasha Peyton Smith
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Other books in the series:
The Witch Hunt
Have you read The Witch Haven? What did you think of it?
Title: Love from Mecca to Medina (Love from A to Z #2) Author: S.K. Ali Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance Publisher: Salaam Reads Source: Publisher Format: Paperback arc Release Date: October 18, 2022 Rating: ★★★★★
Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart.
Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the Hijra, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina, and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation, making her miserable.
Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. Adam is thrilled; it’s the reboot he needs and an opportunity to pray for a hijra in real life: to migrate to Zayneb in Chicago. Zayneb balks at the trip at first, having envisioned another kind of vacation, but then decides a spiritual reset is calling her name too. And they can’t wait to see each other—surely, this is just what they both need.
But the trip is nothing like what they expect, from the appearance of Adam’s former love interest in their traveling group to the anxiety gripping Zayneb when she’s supposed to be “spiritual.” As one wedge after another drives them apart while they make their way through rites in the holy city, Adam and Zayneb start to wonder: was their meeting just an oddity after all? Or can their love transcend everything else like the greatest marvels of the world?
Adam is in Doha, Qatar, trying to find work as an artist while his MS isn’t bothering him. Zayneb is in Chicago, trying to find an apartment while she studies and has to fend off accusations from her school’s newspaper. They are both looking forward to spending a week together in England, but when Adam is offered a trip on the Umbrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, he has to take the opportunity while he’s feeling well. They change their plans to go on the Umbrah together, but their relationship faces the ultimate test on this spiritual journey, making them question if they’re meant to be together.
This was another fabulous S.K. Ali book! It was so nice to be reunited with these familiar characters. There were also characters from the Saints and Misfits books, which was fun to see all of the characters together. The characters were college age, so they had to deal with more adult problems than in a young adult novel, but it was nice to see the characters grow up in this story. There were some chapters from the perspective of Bertha Fatima, Adam and Zayneb’s cat, which were so entertaining.
I didn’t know anything about the Umbrah or Mecca and Medina so I learned a lot in this story. It inspired me to look up some of the terms and places to be able to picture them. The story was detailed and described the entire trip so I got a full picture of this experience.
Love from Mecca to Medina is a great story!
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book!