I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Released: October 5, 2021
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Witches of Thistle Grove #1
Published by Berkley
“Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper had me under its spell from the first page.”~ Under the Covers
Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper had me under its spell from the first page. Readers will love this book that has all the ingredients for the perfect spooky read: hexes, ancient grimoires, and ghostly spirits running amuck.
Four main families run the magical town of Thistle Grove. There is the Harlow’s (the family of main character Emmy), the Thorn’s, the Blackmoore’s, and the Avramov’s. Despite being one of the founding families, the Harlow’s are relegated to the role of town historian. Their major role is to serve as the official master of ceremonies, or “arbiter” for the magical challenge known as the Gauntlet that decides which of the three other families will gain control over the town for the next 50 years. When Emmy comes back to fulfill tradition (despite turning her back on magic), she learns from her best friend Linden Thorn that ex-love Gareth Blackmoore has been two-timing her and Talia Avramov. The three witches team up to get revenge on Gareth and end his family’s unchallenged reign over the town.
The sapphic romance between Talia and Emmy is the star of the show in this book, but I think that Emmy’s homecoming and the interactions between the four different families are just as integral. Sure, the Harlow’s don’t have flashy show-stopping magic like the other families, but they are just as important. There is a reason why they are a founding family, and you get to find that out in the book (no spoilers in the review!). I would classify the relationship between Talia and Emmy as “slow burn” and given how much information the author introduces it doesn’t hit quite as hard as I would have liked. There is room to build and grow over the course of the series though.
I LOVED the incorporation of witchy lore and legend in the book. Harper used history as a foundation for her story and put her unique spin on things. Certain families claim ancestry from famous witches of history (i.e. the Blackmoore’s are descendants of Morgan le Fay), and they lean very heavily into that (to the point of it being excessive). Morgana is a common feature of witch stories, but I was more intrigued by the references to Baba Yaga. She’s a very memorable part of Eastern European stories, but there has never been “one” true version so there are always twists and turns when she or her descendants are involved. This translates to her descendants, the Avramov clan, who quickly became my favorite family in the story.
In future books of the series, I hope that the author does a story featuring Isidora Avramov and Rowan Thorn. She hinted that something happened between them but didn’t specify what and I NEED TO KNOW MORE. The only bad part about reading an early copy of a book is that it takes that much longer to get the next installment of the story, so I’m going to have a while to wait before all my questions are answered.
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