Review: The Darkening (The Darkening #1)

Title: The Darkening (The Darkening #1)
Author: Sunya Mara
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Clarion Books
Source: Gold Leaf Book Box
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: July 5, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this thrilling and epic YA fantasy debut the only hope for a city trapped in the eye of a cursed storm lies with the daughter of failed revolutionaries and a prince terrified of his throne.

Vesper Vale is the daughter of revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries. When her mother was caught by the queen’s soldiers, they gave her a choice: death by the hangman’s axe, or death by the Storm that surrounds the city and curses anyone it touches. She chose the Storm. And when the queen’s soldiers—led by a paranoid prince—catch up to Vesper’s father after twelve years on the run, Vesper will do whatever it takes to save him from sharing that fate.

Even arm herself with her father’s book of dangerous experimental magic.

Even infiltrate the prince’s elite squad of soldier-sorcerers.

Even cheat her way into his cold heart.

But when Vesper learns that there’s more to the story of her mother’s death, she’ll have to make a choice if she wants to save her city: trust the devious prince with her family’s secrets, or follow her mother’s footsteps into the Storm.

Review:

Vesper Vale lives in a city that is trapped by a dangerous storm. Everyone who touches the Storm is cursed, and anyone who enters the Storm doesn’t return. Vesper’s mother went into the storm after killing the king, and Vesper now lives in hiding with her father. When Vesper accidentally exposes her father’s skill with the magic of ikonomancy, the Queen’s soldiers find them and capture her father. Vesper sneaks into the palace, and she must get close to the prince in order to find her father and save everyone from the approaching Storm. 

I was hooked right away in this story. There was lots of tension and danger when Vesper’s dad was discovered. The stakes were high since everyone in Vesper’s life was gone. She also didn’t have anything left to lose, so she took a lot of risks. This made for an exciting story. 

This story is set in a creepy fantasy world. There is a storm surrounding the city, which is divided into rings. The royals and the most elite residents live in the center, with poorer people in each ring further out towards the Storm. The storm has actually absorbed some rings completely so there are less than there once were. This reminded me of the extreme weather we have all over the world. Between wildfires and flooding storms, there is so much unpredictable weather, just like this dangerous Storm that curses anyone who touches it. 

The Darkening is a thrilling start to a fantasy series!

What to read next:

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Have you read The Darkening? What did you think of it?

Review: The Witches of Moonshyne Manor

Title: The Witches of Moonshyne Manor
Author: Bianca Marais
Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary
Publisher: MIRA
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc, Ebook
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A coven of modern-day witches. A magical heist-gone-wrong. A looming threat.

Five octogenarian witches gather as an angry mob threatens to demolish Moonshyne Manor. All eyes turn to the witch in charge, Queenie, who confesses they’ve fallen far behind on their mortgage payments. Still, there’s hope, since the imminent return of Ruby—one of the sisterhood who’s been gone for thirty-three years—will surely be their salvation.

But the mob is only the start of their troubles. One man is hellbent on avenging his family for the theft of a legacy he claims was rightfully his. In an act of desperation, Queenie makes a bargain with an evil far more powerful than anything they’ve ever faced. Then things take a turn for the worse when Ruby’s homecoming reveals a seemingly insurmountable obstacle instead of the solution to all their problems.

The witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but their aging powers are no match for increasingly malicious threats. Thankfully, they get a bit of help from Persephone, a feisty TikToker eager to smash the patriarchy. As the deadline to save the manor approaches, fractures among the sisterhood are revealed, and long-held secrets are exposed, culminating in a fiery confrontation with their enemies.

Funny, tender and uplifting, the novel explores the formidable power that can be discovered in aging, found family and unlikely friendships. Marais’ clever prose offers as much laughter as insight, delving deeply into feminism, identity and power dynamics while stirring up intrigue and drama through secrets, lies and sex. Heartbreaking and heart-mending, it will make you grateful for the amazing women in your life.

Review:

Queenie, who is in charge of the witches who live at Moonshyne Manor, hasn’t told the other witches that they are behind on their mortgage payments. She made a deal with Charon, the ferryman of Hades, and if she can’t produce what he wants on time, they will lose their home. Meanwhile, all of the witches are awaiting the return of Ruby, who has been in prison for the past thirty-three years. They think that Ruby’s return will solve all of their problems, but she’s not the same person that went into prison. Teenage Persephone arrives on their doorstep one day, ready to learn from them and help them fight the patriarchy. These witches have to use their special sisterhood to save Moonshyne Manor. 

The witches who live at Moonshyne Manor are all in their eighties. I loved this, because there aren’t many novels that have elderly characters. The story has been described as the Golden Girls meets Practical Magic, and that’s the perfect description. Though these women were older, they acted youthful and took charge of the problems in their lives to proactively solve them. 

The witches were also modern and open minded. One of the witches had a fluid gender identity as part of their magic. None of them married or had children, defying society’s expectations for them. They also acknowledged when they needed help from a younger mind. Persephone was able to find solutions that they didn’t think of. I loved how unique the characters were in this story. 

The Witches of Moonshyne Manor is a fabulous witchy novel!

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Have you read The Witches of Moonshyne Manor? What did you think of it?

Review: Blood Like Fate (Blood Like Magic #2)

Title: Blood Like Fate (Blood Like Magic #2)
Author: Liselle Sambury
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: August 9, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Voya fights to save her witch community from a terrible future.

Voya Thomas may have passed her Calling to become a full-fledged witch, but the cost was higher than she’d ever imagined.

Her grandmother is gone.
Her cousin hates her.
And her family doesn’t believe that she has what it takes to lead them.

What’s more, Voya can’t let go of her feelings for Luc, sponsor son of the genius billionaire Justin Tremblay—the man that Luc believes Voya killed. Consequently, Luc wants nothing to do with her. Even her own ancestors seem to have lost faith in her. Every day Voya begs for their guidance, but her calls go unanswered.

As Voya struggles to convince everyone—herself included—that she can be a good Matriarch, she has a vision of a terrifying, deadly future. A vision that would spell the end of the Toronto witches. With a newfound sense of purpose, Voya must do whatever it takes to bring her shattered community together and stop what’s coming for them before it’s too late.

Even if it means taking down the boy she loves—who might be the mastermind behind the coming devastation.

Review:

Voya Thomas passed her Calling and now is not only a witch but the Matriarch of the family. Though she has replaced her grandmother as the leader of the family, they don’t listen to her. Her ancestors who she calls upon for advice have been ignoring her, so she doesn’t know what to do next. Then, Voya has a vision of her home burning and her entire family dying. She needs to figure out how to stop it from happening, which means returning to the boy she loves, who may be behind it all. 

Blood Like Magic was one of my favourite reads last year, and this sequel lived up to my expectations. It was easy to jump back into the story because the characters were so vivid and distinct. I particularly love the setting of Toronto, my hometown. This story doesn’t feature typical Toronto settings, like the CN Tower, but instead they visit locally known locations like Dixie Outlet Mall and Trinity Bellwoods Park. I love how this feels authentically like Toronto. 

I appreciated the blended family in this story. There extended witch families were in this story a lot more because they had to work together to protect the broader witch community. Voya’s family lives in a huge house that includes her aunts and uncles, as well as her mom, dad, and her dad’s second wife and daughter. I liked seeing this positive perspective of a healthy blended family. 

I was getting worried close to the end of the story because I didn’t think there was enough space left for the story to be complete. However, it all came together at the end. I really hope that we will revisit Voya and her family in the future because I love these characters!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

Other books in the series:

Have you read Blood Like Fate? What did you think of it?

Review: Alliana, Girl of Dragons

Title: Alliana, Girl of Dragons
Author: Julie Abe
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: August 2, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Once upon a time, Alliana believed in dreams and fairy tales as sweet as spun-sugar clouds. Alliana wished on shooting stars, sure that someday she and her grandmother would be able to travel to the capital city to see the queen. Then her grandmother passed away—and those dreams disappeared in a disenchanted puff.

Now Alliana’s forced to attend to the whims of her wicked stepmother—with long days of cleaning her stepfamily’s inn as her skin burns raw or staying up until the crack of dawn to embroider her stepsister’s ball gowns. Until she meets two beings who change her life forever—the first is a young nightdragon who Alliana discovers she can magically talk to. And the second is Nela, a young witch.

Nela needs Alliana’s help navigating the mysterious abyss, filled with dangerous beasts, a place Alliana knows by heart. Alliana sees Nela’s request as a chance to break free of her stepmother’s shadow and to seize a chance at a life she’s barely dared to hope for—but there’s a risk. If caught, Alliana will be stuck working for her stepmother for the rest of her life. Can Alliana truly make wisps of dreams into her own, better-than-a-fairy-tale happily ever after?

Inspired by the Japanese Cinderella story and set in the same world as the Eva Evergreen series, this story can be read as a standalone.

Review:

Alliana dreams of going to the Royal Academy and meeting the Queen. When her grandmother passes away, Alliana is left with her stepmother and step siblings, who make her do all the dirty work at their inn. Then, Alliana meets two friends. One is a dragon named Kabo, who Alliana saves from battling dragons. The other is a witch named Nela, who wants to help Alliana escape from her stepmother. Alliana must find a way to break free from the prison get stepmother has created. 

I really enjoyed this Cinderella story. I liked that Alliana’s goal wasn’t to marry a Prince, like in many Cinderella stories. She wanted to follow her dream of going to the Royal Academy for herself. She didn’t want to rely on anyone else because the people closest to her didn’t treat her well. This is an inspiring message for middle grade readers!

Alliana, Girl of Dragons is a great Cinderella story. 

Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

Have you read Alliana, Girl of Dragons? What did you think of it?

Review: The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer #1)

Title: The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer #1)
Author: Lynette Noni
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Clarion Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: April 13, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

From bestselling author Lynette Noni comes a dark, thrilling YA fantasy perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Sabaa Tahir.

Review:

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan is the healer at the prison Zalindov, where she was taken as a prisoner with her father ten years ago. When the Rebel Queen arrives at the prison critically ill, Kiva must keep her alive to do the Trial by Ordeal. The Trial by Ordeal is a series of challenges with earth, water, air, and fire for the most dangerous criminals. The Rebel Queen is too ill to even stand, never mind complete the trial, so Kiva volunteers to do the trial in her place. However, Kiva doesn’t have the elemental magic required to beat the challenges. Kiva must take on this impossible task while also investigating a virus sweeping through the prison and spending time with an irresistible new inmate. 

I read this book while I was sick with Covid, and it kept my mind off being sick. This story was an original take on a “chosen one” story. Kiva didn’t seem like a typical hero, until she volunteered to take the place as the Rebel Queen in the trial. The tasks seemed impossible, which made it more exciting when she succeeded. 

The twists at the end of the story blew me away! I missed the hints of what was coming throughout the story, but after I knew what happened, I could see the clues. 

The Prison Healer is a fantastic young adult fantasy!

What to read next:

The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni

Other books in the series:

  • The Gilded Cage (The Prison Healer #2)
  • The Blood Traitor (The Prison Healer #3)

Have you read The Prison Healer? What did you think of it?

Review: Lumberjackula

Title: Lumberjackula
Author: Mat Heagerty, Sam Owen
Genre: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Author
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: July 19, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

This middle grade graphic novel follows a half-vampire, half-lumberjack boy who feels torn between his parents and just wants to be a dancer.

Jack is in a pickle. His lumberjack mom wants him to go to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep to learn how to chop wood and wear flannel. His vampire dad wants him to go to Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire School to learn how to turn into a bat and drink blood-orange juice. And Jack has a secret: what he really wants to do is dance.

When he finds out about Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy from new friend Plenty, Jack feels he’s finally found the place where he can be his true self. But he’s too afraid of disappointing his family to tell them. What’s a half-lumberjack, half-vampire boy to do?

To summon the confidence to pursue his dreams, Jack will have to embrace every part of himself—his lumberjack toughness, his vampire eeriness, and most especially his awesome dance moves.

Review:

Lumberjackula, AKA Jack, is half-lumberjack and half-vampire. His mom wants him to go to Mighty Log Lumberjack Prep and his dad wants him to go to Sorrow’s Gloom Vampire School. However, Jack doesn’t feel like he fits in at either of those schools. What he really loves is to dance, so when he discovers Tip Tap Twinkle Toes Dance Academy, he knows it’s the right school for him. Jack doesn’t want to disappoint either of his families, though, so he pretends he still doesn’t know what school he wants to attend. Jack has to learn how to embrace all parts of his personality and be his true self. 

This was such a fun graphic novel! Jack comes from two very different backgrounds, lumberjack and vampire. He didn’t really feel like he fit in completely with either group, but he didn’t want to let either of his parents down. I think this would be relatable for kids who come from more than one cultural background. Jack had to learn that he didn’t have to fit into either group, and he could follow his own path to become a dancer. 

The illustrations in this graphic novel were vibrant and adorable. There were even some dances that Jack did to music that were mapped out. I really enjoyed reading this story!

Lumberjackula is an uplifting middle grade graphic novel about being true to yourself. 

Thank you Mat Heagerty and Simon Kids for sending me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

Unplugged and Unpopular by Mat Heagerty,Tintin Pantoja, Mike Amante

Martian Ghost Centaur by Mat Heagerty, Steph Mided

Have you read Lumberjackula? What did you think of it?

Review: Caraval (Caraval #1)

Title: Caraval (Caraval #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 29, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A legendary competition.

A mesmerizing romance.

An unbreakable bond

between two sisters.

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

Review:

Scarlett Dragna and her sister Tella have never left their home island. Their father has arranged a marriage for Scarlett with an unknown Count. Scarlett has dreamed of going to the mysterious performance of Caraval, but now that she will be leaving to be married, she won’t have the chance to go. However, one day she receives three tickets to Caraval: one for her, her sister, and her fiancé. Instead of Scarlett’s fiancé, who they haven’t met, they bring Julian, Tella’s latest lover. On their way to Caraval, the sisters are separated. The game of Caraval this year will centre around the mystery of finding Tella. Scarlett is constantly told not to believe anything in the game, but she must trust her instincts to find her sister before the game is over. 

I’m so glad I finally started this series! This was such a thrilling story. I didn’t know what it was going to be about, so the plot was a surprise. There was fantasy, romance, and a mystery. 

The game itself was unreliable so, like Scarlett, I didn’t know what to believe. This made the story unpredictable, especially by the end. I really enjoyed the ending and I’m going to have to start the next book soon!

Caraval is an exciting start to this series!

What to read next:

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Other books in the series:

  • Legendary (Caraval #2
  • Finale (Caraval #3)

Have you read Caraval? What did you think of it?

Review: Out of the Blue

Title: Out of the Blue
Author: Jason June
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 31, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Crest is not excited to be on their Journey: the monthlong sojourn on land all teen merfolk must undergo. The rules are simple: Help a human within one moon cycle and return to Pacifica to become an Elder–or fail and remain stuck on land forever. Crest is eager to get their Journey over and done with: after all, humans are disgusting. They’ve pollluted the planet so much that there’s a floating island of trash that’s literally the size of a country. 

In Los Angeles with a human body and a new name, Crest meets Sean, a human lifeguard whose boyfriend has recently dumped him. Crest agrees to help Sean make his ex jealous and win him back. But as the two spend more time together and Crest’s pespective on humans begins to change, they’ll soon be torn between two worlds. And fake dating just might lead to real feelings…

This instant New York Times bestselling novel from Jason June dives into the many definitions of the world home and shows how love can help us find the truest versions of ourselves.

Review:

Crest is a mer, who lives in the Blue, and must go on the journey that all of the merfolk do, which is go on land and help a human. When Crest goes on land, they go by the name Ross, and meet Sean. Sean is a lifeguard, whose boyfriend has just dumped him for another swimmer. When Sean’s ex boyfriend sees him with Ross and looks jealous, Sean realizes he can use Ross to make his ex jealous and want to get back together. Ross agrees to it since that will fulfill their journey by helping Sean. As Sean and Ross fulfill all their tasks for their fake dating plan, they end up developing real feelings for each other, which makes them wonder what will happen when Ross’s journey is finished and it’s time to return to the Blue. 

This story was set in contemporary Los Angeles, but it was a world where fantasy creatures exist. Mer can go on land, losing their tails and taking on a human appearance. There were other supernatural creatures mentioned, like vampires and elves, so hopefully more of this world will be described in other novels. 

I enjoyed the gendered exploration in this novel. Mer were a gender neutral species, so Ross went by the pronoun “they.” It’s ironic, since we usually talk about “mermaids” as being female, and don’t usually mention a male equivalent. Making all mer gender neutral meant there were no mermaids or mermen. They were all mer. 

Out of the Blue is a great original story!

What to read next:

Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee

Have you read Out of the Blue? What did you think of it?

Review: Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun (Onyeka #1)

Title: Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun
Author: Tọlá Okogwu
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Black Panther meets X-Men in this action-packed and empowering middle grade adventure about a British Nigerian girl who learns that her Afro hair has psychokinetic powers—perfect for fans of Amari and the Night Brothers, The Marvellers, and Rick Riordan!

Onyeka has a lot of hair­—the kind that makes strangers stop in the street and her peers whisper behind her back. At least she has Cheyenne, her best friend, who couldn’t care less what other people think. Still, Onyeka has always felt insecure about her vibrant curls…until the day Cheyenne almost drowns and Onyeka’s hair takes on a life of its own, inexplicably pulling Cheyenne from the water.

At home, Onyeka’s mother tells her the shocking truth: Onyeka’s psycho-kinetic powers make her a Solari, one of a secret group of people with super powers unique to Nigeria. Her mother quickly whisks her off to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where Solari are trained. But Onyeka and her new friends at the academy soon have to put their powers to the test as they find themselves embroiled in a momentous battle between truth and lies…

Review:

Onyeka has a lot of hair that is out of control most of the time. One day, when her friend begins to drown, Onyeka swims after her, and her hair somehow pulls them both out. Onyeka’s mother tells her that she’s inherited these special powers from her father, who was a Solari. The Solari are a group of people with super powers in Nigeria. Her mother brings her to Nigeria to find her father and get answers on how to control her newfound power at the Academy of the Sun. 

This book is described as Black Panther meets X-Men and that’s the perfect comparison! Most of the story was set in Nigeria, in an advanced school filled with kids who have various super powers. The school was divided in four groups, by the type of power students had. The groups had to compete against each other and all the students had to compete against one another with grades and challenges. 

I loved the message that something that was perceived as a weakness is actually strength. Onyeka’s mom had strict rules for how she had to treat her hair. It was often a mess and going in every direction, until she learned how to control it. What she thought was her weakness ended up being the source of her super power. 

Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun is a great start to a middle school adventure series. 

Thank you Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Shuri by Nic Stone

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

Have you read Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun? What did you think of it?

Review: Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (Her Majesty’s Royal Coven #1)

Title: Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (Her Majesty’s Royal Coven #1)
Author: Juno Dawson
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: May 31, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A Discovery of Witches meets The Craft in this the first installment of this epic fantasy trilogy about a group of childhood friends who are also witches. 

If you look hard enough at old photographs, we’re there in the background: healers in the trenches; Suffragettes; Bletchley Park oracles; land girls and resistance fighters. Why is it we help in times of crisis? We have a gift. We are stronger than Mundanes, plain and simple.

At the dawn of their adolescence, on the eve of the summer solstice, four young girls–Helena, Leonie, Niamh and Elle–took the oath to join Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, established by Queen Elizabeth I as a covert government department. Now, decades later, the witch community is still reeling from a civil war and Helena is now the reigning High Priestess of the organization. Yet Helena is the only one of her friend group still enmeshed in the stale bureaucracy of HMRC. Elle is trying to pretend she’s a normal housewife, and Niamh has become a country vet, using her powers to heal sick animals. In what Helena perceives as the deepest betrayal, Leonie has defected to start her own more inclusive and intersectional coven, Diaspora. And now Helena has a bigger problem. A young warlock of extraordinary capabilities has been captured by authorities and seems to threaten the very existence of HMRC. With conflicting beliefs over the best course of action, the four friends must decide where their loyalties lie: with preserving tradition, or doing what is right.

Juno Dawson explores gender and the corrupting nature of power in a delightful and provocative story of magic and matriarchy, friendship and feminism. Dealing with all the aspects of contemporary womanhood, as well as being phenomenally powerful witches, Niamh, Helena, Leonie and Elle may have grown apart but they will always be bound by the sisterhood of the coven.

Review:

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven was established by Queen Elizabeth I to protect her. Now, centuries later, Helena is the High Priestess, leader of the coven. Her friends are: Niamh, a vet who uses her powers to heal animals, Elle, a housewife leading a secret life as a witch, and Leona, who left to create her own intersectional coven. After Helena discovers a young warlock with extraordinary powers they’ve never seen before, she brings him to be trained and examined by Niamh. However, the warlock holds a lot of secrets which threaten to turn the coven upside down. 

As soon as I saw this title I knew I needed to read this book, but I went into the story without knowing what it was about. It was a fantastic witchy story that we need right now. 

This story explores gender and gender stereotypes. This witch world was divided into female witches and male warlocks with nothing in between. However, when a transgender character entered the novel, it threw some of them off. There was a lot of transphobia which was disturbing to read, but that’s the point. The real world and fictional fantasy worlds have not been nice to transgender people, especially in recent years. This intersectional look at witches was such an important and powerful read. 

The final few chapters of this book were completely shocking and unpredictable. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book. 

Thank you Penguin Books for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

Have you read Her Majesty’s Royal Coven? What did you think of it?