This makes for a very wholesome read that will definitely appeal to fans of T.J. Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea. Set in Britain, we follow Mika Moon, a witch who has learnt to live an isolated life in order to successfully hide her magic from others. Like other witches, she is an orphan who has grown used to being alone and hiding her true nature. Once every so often she meets up with other witches but they are discouraged from forming real bonds with one another. On a lark Mika has an online account where she posts witchy content, knowing that no one will genuinely believe that she is in fact a witch…except that someone does and they want to employ her. The story follows Mika as she embarks on a nanny McPhee venture: she is to live at Nowhere House and teach three young witches, how to control and use their magic. Despite her initial reluctance, given that Mika has come to believe that witches should not be in each other’s proximity, she takes on the job. Nowhere House is also the home to several other residents all of whom in their own ways look after the girls and the house. The novel relates the various magical mishaps that may happen when trying to teach young witches. Sadly, the novel focuses a lot of its ‘run time’ on the romance that develops between Mika and the ‘grumpy’ librarian whose dickish behavior is excused because of an appropriately sad backstory. From the get-go he is really rude, and disrespectful even, towards Mika, yet, his nastiness is made to seem ‘endearing’ as it is a sign of him being protective of the three witches. The dynamic between Mika and him fits the sunny girl/grumpy guy trope perfectly. I just could not bring myself to like this guy or see him in a sympathetic light. Mika deserved way better. The story’s themes about belonging and fitting in are explored in a rather predictable and vanilla way. I would have preferred something a bit sharper, funnier even, but instead, the story is very much twee galore and full of scenes that I can best describe as best suited to the realms of fanfiction. I would have liked more scenes exploring the relationship between Mika and her pupil. These three witches have barely-there personalities, two are nice, one isn’t, and that’s about it. There were some interactions where they were meant to come across as cute but they struck me as profoundly grating, the ‘prickly’ one especially. The side characters are more or less cartoonish and serve fairly comedic functions. The fantasy aspect was very unimaginative which was a pity since I really hoped this would be something along the lines of Zen Cho and Diana Wynne Jones, authors who incorporate magical elements into their storytelling in a really playful and inventive way.
I am sure that readers who like a lot of fluff and cheesy humor will find this to be more of a more rewarding read than I did. I for one am done with male love interests whose shitty behavior against the ray-of-sunshine heroine is swept under the rug.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ stars
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