Book Review: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….

Before I start previewing this book I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2nd last week. I wondered whether or not to post today (I didn’t on Friday) but on reflection I have chosen too. Things feel a little odd at the moment, it feels both like everything has changed whilst simultaneously nothing has, I feel like I should be doing something but there isn’t anything to be done – apart from carry on, so that’s what I shall do.

This was a wonderful, cheerful book to read, gentle with enough plot to hook you as a reader and keep you interested. I was a little worried when I started that it would just be a lite version of House in the Cerulean Sea which was the vibe I got  from it, and while I think readers who enjoyed Cerulean Sea would love this too, this one is happily standing on its own feet.

I loved the magic system and rules used in this. The fact the witches actually keep spell books and brew potions in cauldrons (also love the use of magic tea, even without added witchyness I can’t help but feel that tea is a little magic anyway!). The back story to witches was also fascinating and gave a perfect reason for why things were set up like they were.

The characterisations in this book were great, everyone felt very ‘individual’ and no one was two dimensional. Mika was impossible not to fall in love with right from the start and it was easy to will things to go right for her.

Nowhere House was wonderful, the warmth of it seeped off the page and made you want to be right there too.

A lovely, warm read that I very much enjoyed.

With thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for a copy in exchange for honest review

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is available now.