Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.
But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.
On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?
But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?
Amazon Link: Payback’s a Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove #1)
Author: Lana Harper
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
It was not obvious when I found this book that it was the start of a series. Publishers, please put the series title and number on the cover. It would have helped set my expectations for this book if I knew that there was more story still to come. Instead, I found out after the ending when I realized there were still many things unresolved.
Anyway, I liked the idea of a magical competition and the F/F romance. I wasn’t as sold on the revenge plot, and that kind of fell by the wayside halfway through because it was more about the mystery of the competition and how the main character found herself. She came into her own power later. She needed to find a reason to do things beyond just being hurt by an ex-boyfriend and hooking up with someone new. I was glad with the resolution of the main conflicts
What I’m still confused about is the world-building. Why is magic so tied to this town and why can’t it exist anywhere else? These families came from somewhere else before they founded Thistle Grove. It’s explained that their magic is now tied to Thistle Grove so it only works for them in that town, but it doesn’t explain the rest of the world or anyone else. Where did they use magic before they founded the town? What happened to it? Why did they have to build a special town to tie their magic? Why is no one even curious about their history before the town? Maybe these are questions for later books.
The F/F romance is sort of start and stop. Both characters have reasons not to commit, but it’s frustrating for a while.
I’m curious to see where it will go, but the next book is about a M/F couple and I came here for the sapphic romance. I’m not sure if the questions about the town are enough to keep me going in the series.
Here is the book in my reading journal: