Book Review: Tree Glee by Cheryl Rickman

The witches of Whitby are thrilled to be on the blog tour for Tree Glee by Cheryl Rickman especially Amber. All witches have a connection with the natural world but Amber developed an affinity with trees at a young age and is always on the look out for more knowledge on them.

Scroll down to see her unbiased view. Thanks to Random Things Tours for a beautiful advanced copy to read.

Book Review: Tree Glee by Cheryl Rickman

Title: Tree Gless

Author: Cheyl Rickman

Publisher: Wellbeck

Genre: Well-being, Nature, Non-fiction

Release Date: 13th October 2022

Blurb:

Tree Glee fuses nature writing, psychology and self-help wellbeing guidance all backed up by the latest scientific research.

Trees and humans essentially want the same thing – to live good, happy, purposeful lives and to flourish. We are inextricably bound. Trees provide us with the necessities of life – they clean the air we breathe, fill us with awe as we walk through forests and provide timber for the houses we live in, yet there are deeper reasons for our arboreal admiration that go beyond utility and beauty.

‘This lovely book is an absolute gem’
Joanna Lumley, Tree Aid Patron


‘Trees are so important to our health and that of the planet. This inspirational book shows just how we can thrive together’ Alan Titchmarsh MBE

Written by Positive Psychology practitioner and long-time tree-lover Cheryl Rickman, Tree Glee explores how trees
can become an essential tool in our wellbeing toolkit, helping us to feel better in a variety of different and
fascinating ways.


Looking at the psychology behind our fascination with trees, and the science behind how they comfort, restore and
revitalise us, Tree Glee examines what we can learn from the wisdom of woodlands to improve our own wellness.
Alongside this, Cheryl explores the importance of trees in our leafy suburbs and urban landscapes, sharing magical
stories of remarkable ancient trees across the globe and invites readers to reflect on their own personal ‘treestory’.


Featuring captivating photos and chapters on forest bathing and nature therapy, woodland wellbeing and tree
mythology, creative activities and conservation initiatives, Tree Glee is part ode and love letter to trees, part
practical wellbeing guide and nature-connection manual and part call to action. The book explores how by
deepening our appreciation and connection to trees and by celebrating and protecting them, we can flourish
together.

Thoughts from the Emporium

What a wonderful book! Not only does it look good, thanks to the clear layout and inspirational photographs that make you want to step outside and experience nature for yourself, it is a joy to read. Amber has always felt calmer when surrounded by trees, and they are essential for her wellbeing but now she knows the reasons why and can tap into it further.

Unlike many books where she has got overwhelmed by science, Tree Glee is highly accessible without losing any depth. There is a wealth of information including biology, psychology and ecology which is perfectly blended with Cheryl’s own experiences, mythology, suggested activities to connect with nature and appreciate it. The storytelling section tapped into Amber’s creative side and is tempted to do the #100DaysOfTrees Challenge where you record the beauty of trees for 100 days. Cheryl Rickman’s can be found on her Instagram @treeglee

Tree Glee is a must read for fellow tree and nature lovers or those wanting to improve their mental health. It would make an ideal Christmas gift too. Amber’s copy will be well loved and have a treasured spot on her own forever shelf as well as on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

Author Biography

Cheryl Rickman

Cheryl Rickman is a proud tree-hugger and advocate for the power of nature as a healer and energy-giver. She is also a Sunday Times best-selling author and a qualified positive psychology practitioner. Cheryl specializes in writing empowering, practical books to help people fret less and flourish more and is a wellbeing ambassador for the Network of Wellbeing. She owns a small parcel of ancient woodland in the Hampshire countryside with her partner.

Twitter @tree glee @writeruk
Instagram @treeglee @wellbeingauthor
Facebook facebook.com/groups/treeglee
Website www.TreeGlee.co.uk www.CherylRickman.co.uk

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Book Review: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

While there maybe a strict no Christmas rule in The Enchanted Emporium until 1st December, it doesn’t extend into the courtyard outside. Sitting next to the enchanted lending library, Rosa’s Box of Romance has been decorated with fairy lights and tinsel to reflect the books inside. It’s full of this year’s festive treats for visitors to borrow or exchange including Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe thanks to Random Things Tours.

Rosa is excited to share her honest and unbiased review as part of the blog tour.

Book Review: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

Book cover for Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by  Helen Rolfe
Pale blue cover with festive landscape at the bottom. A shop glowing with fairy lights and flanked by 2 Christmas trees
Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

Title: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop

Author: Helen Rolfe

Publisher: Orion

Genre: Romance, Festive

Release Date: 22nd October 2022

Blurb

Can three sisters stitch their family back together?

Loretta has run the little sewing shop in Butterbury for years, while bringing up her three headstrong daughters. Her own grandmother taught her how to quilt, and Loretta always found time to sit with Daisy, Ginny and Fern, pulling together scraps of material – and their hopes and dreams – into a beautiful whole.

But this Christmas the family is coming apart at the seams: Fern feels like she’s failing at motherhood and marriage; Ginny’s passion for her job as a midwife is fading, Daisy is keeping two very different secrets – and most of all, Loretta seems to be hiding something from her daughters…

As they come together to create a beautiful new festive quilt, memories are stirred, the bonds between sisters healed, and new friendships woven. But when Loretta reveals the real reason she’s gathered them all back to the sewing shop, can the sisters mend the quilt, and their family, in time for Christmas?

Full of kindness, community and festive magic, this is a treat to curl up with this Christmas! Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Jenny Colgan and Ali McNamara

Thoughts from the Emporium

The title and blurb drew Rosa in thanks, in part to the recent chat in the shop about the special meaning quilts after the history of Willow’s beloved childhood patchwork quilt was revealed in Old Jax’s Quilt. It promised to be as cosy and warming as the quilt the sisters were making and it didn’t disappoint. Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop was a delightful and heart-warming start to Rosa’s festive reading.

The Sewing Box is an ideal setting for a festive read and made a refreshing read from the usual bakery or café. The family business was built on love and community which showed in the colourful and detailed descriptions of the shop and the sisters’ current and past sewing projects. Reading about how memories were held in each patch encouraged Rosa to pick up a needle and begin some festive projects of her own to create heirlooms and traditions for her small family including her own version of an advent calendar. For readers who have a creative side, this novel is an inspiring Christmas treat.

The village and wintery landscape also extended the feeling of escapism away from the family home and the sense of community and care was just what was needed in these troubling times.

Told in all the sisters and their mum, Loretta’s, point of view it gave an insight into each life, motivation and reason for drifting apart which made Rosa invested in a happy ending. They’re all relatable characters especially Fern with her desire for perfection and Loretta for a close knit family again.  It tugged at the heart. While there is a thread of romance through this book, the focus is on the bond sisters can have, idyllic locations, friendship and a tight knit community where healing and love can flourish.

It’s ideal for the dark evenings, snuggled under a duvet with hot chocolate or festive tea.

Author Biography

Helen Rolfe sitting on a wooden park bench reading. She is a white woman, shoulder length light brown hair wearing jeans, black top and sunglasses
Helen Rolfe

Helen Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen’s stories always have a happy ending

Social media

Twitter @HJRolfe

Website www.helenjrolfe.com

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Book Review: Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Willow and Amber were thrilled when Widdershins and Sunwise, the second book in the series arrived on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf, courtesy of Random Things Tours. They knew the stories were written with love and attention when they unwrapped the package to discover the books came with a corn dolly for fertility, and lavender and tea to aid sleep.

Scroll down to see if they were right.

Book Review: Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Title: Widdershins

Author: Helen Steadman

Genre: Historical Fiction, Witchlit

Release Date: 8th April 2022

Blurb

‘DID ALL WOMEN HAVE SOMETHING OF THE WITCH ABOUT THEM?’


England, 1649. A sadistic witch hunter. An apprentice healer accused of witchcraft. Can she escape the hangman’s noose?
When John’s parents die at the hands of a witch, he faces a choice: an easy life with a woman who serves Satan, or a hard life with a preacher who serves God. The cursed orphan chooses the church. Raised on raging sermons, he discovers his true purpose: to become a witchfinder and save virtuous souls from the jaws of hell.
In a town mesmerized by superstition and fear, two destinies collide. As John rounds up t

he local witches, Jane gets more than she bargained for when bartering with the apothecary. Instead of trading herbal remedies, she finds herself on trial for consorting with the devil. Can she prove her innocence, or will she be condemned to death?


If you like historical novels based on real witch trials, you’ll love Helen Steadman’s Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise. Recommended for fans of The Familiars, Tidelands and The Witchfinder’s Sister.

Thoughts from the Emporium

What a fabulous read! History plays an important role in the witches’ lives yet to their shame neither had heard about the Newcastle witch trials which this series covers. Beautifully written with intricate details masterfully blended into each scene, this novel immersed both Willow and Amber into the 17th century. It allowed them to breathe in the aromas of the herbs, choke on the stench of disease, hear nature and the hubbub of village life, and experience the culture of the time. For part they enjoyed walking side by side with Jane learning the ways herbs were used and how they were integrated in society, but the sense of danger and the tightrope knowledgeable women walked was terrifying.

Glimpsing into the life of John made an emotional impact that surprised them. Despite knowing the horrors he’d commit, they pitied the boy he was and understood the reasons how he came to change his stance when strict fanatic puritan views were rife. The hatred and twisted views after radicalisation were harder to forgive as was the societal change taking power away from women during birth to those of male medics. The impacts of these can still be seen today.

The collision of Jane and John’s lives horrified the witches and were grateful those times have passed but the fear lives on. They are eager to read Sunwise to find out more.

Helen Steadman is a wonderful storyteller and makes historical fiction accessible where in other hands, it could have been heavy with too many facts and no soul. She tapped into the characters and era and made them come alive. This is witchy historical fiction at its best and on par with Barbara Erskine. The Enchanted Emporium is proud to have theses books in its collection and the witches are now hoping Helen Steadman will wander down Black Cat Alley for a Monday Merry Meet. Willow suspects they have much to discuss. Watch this space!

Author Biography

Photo of Helen Steadman. White woman smiling with dark shoulder length hair and cosy jumper. Trees in the background.
Helen Steadman

Dr Helen Steadman is a historical novelist. Her first novel, Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise were inspired by the seventeenth-century Newcastle witch trials. Her third novel, The Running Wolf was inspired by the Shotley Bridge swordmakers, who defected from Solingen, Germany in 1687. Helen’s fourth novel is God of Fire, a Greek myth retelling about Hephaestus, possibly the least well-known of the Olympians. Helen is now working on her fifth novel.
Despite the Newcastle witch trials being one of the largest mass executions of witches on a single day in England, they are not widely known about. Helen is particularly interested in revealing hidden histories and she is a thorough researcher who goes to great lengths in pursuit of historical accuracy. To get under the skin of the cunning women in Widdershins and Sunwise, Helen trained in herbalism and learned how to identify, grow and harvest plants and then made
herbal medicines from bark, seeds, flowers and berries.
The Running Wolf is the story of a group of master swordmakers who defected from Solingen, Germany and moved to Shotley Bridge, England in 1687. As well as carrying out in-depth archive research and visiting forges in Solingen to bring her story to life, Helen also undertook blacksmith training, which culminated in making her own sword. During her archive research, Helen uncovered a lot of new material and she published her findings in the Northern History
journal.

Book Highlight: The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw

A new book has arrived on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf, The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw thanks to Random Things Tours. With a stunning cover and an intriguing blurb involving a creepy house and spiritualism Amber has snuck it into her college bag. Watch this space for a review but in the meantime scroll down to see why the book caught her eye.

Book Review: The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw

The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw

Title: The Parlour Game

Author: Jennifer Renshaw

Genre: Dark Gothic

Release Date: 31st August 2022

Blurb

DEATH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING… a dark gothic tale for fans of The Clockwork Girl and The Woman in Black.

London, 1873.

Ivy Granger, an amateur botanist, is plagued by disturbing dreams and faceless whispers. Misunderstood by her father, she fears for her sanity – threatened with the asylum or worse, the hands of a man she loathes.

But a stranger at her mother’s funeral reveals Ivy’s world has been a lie and she could have a different life, for she is capable of so much more…

Miss Earnshaw, London’s most renowned spiritualist, is Ivy’s only hope of revealing what secrets her mother took to the grave and discovering her true purpose.

Ivy’s journey for knowledge takes her to Blackham House, a building haunted by a terrible past – full of macabre artefacts and ancient studies of the supernatural. But behind closed doors, the Blackhams collect more than relics alone, and Ivy will soon find herself at the centre of a conspiracy spanning generations and a hidden evil waiting to be unleashed.

Can Ivy survive in a world where women must play their part or risk being silenced?

Author Biography

Jennifer Renshaw

Jennifer Renshaw grew up in Sussex, England, and is a former analyst. She has always been fascinated by history and enjoys a gothic mystery. She now lives in Denmark with her family and two portly cats.

Find out more at http://www.jenniferrenshaw.com

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Book Review: The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 by Lia Leendertz

Amber was thrilled by this book post courtesy of Random Things Tours. Amber has  secretly coveted Willow’s treasured and rather battered almanac since she saw it in the Emporium’s workshop. Some pages are stained from when they foraged for blackberries under the full moon for added potency, and others have added notes in Willow’s distinctive script. When opened, more often than not, pressed flowers and leaves fall out, each one holding a memory and connection to nature. 

Amber longed for an almanac of her own. An annual extension of her Book of Shadows. With a beautiful cover and the promise of extensive information in the blurb, she’s looking forward to giving her unbiased opinion on this edition.

Book Review: The Almanac A Seasonal Guide to  2023 by Lia Leendertz

The Almanac A Seasonal Guide to 2023 by Lia Leendertz

Title: The Almanac A Seasonal Guide to 2023

Author: Lia Leendertz Illustrated by Whooli Chen

Publisher: Octopus

Genre: Non-fiction, Nature

Release Date: 1st September 2022

Blurb

The sixth instalment of the bestselling season guide is here! Reconnect with the seasons in Britain and Ireland with this month-by-month guide to the world around us – including key dates, tide tables and garden tasks; constellations and moon phases; sunrises, folk songs, seasonal recipes plus a ‘bun of the month’; and – because 2023 will be a good year for planet spotting – the solar system and the zodiac.

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 gives you all the tools and inspiration you need to celebrate, mark, and appreciate each month of the year in your own particular way. Divided into the 12 months, a set of tables each month gives it the feel and weight of a traditional almanac, providing practical information that gives access to the outdoors and the seasons, perfect for walks, expeditions, meteor-spotting nights and beach holidays. There are also features on each month’s unique nature, with this instalment following the swirling micro world of the garden pond through the year. You will find yourself referring to The Almanac all year long, revisiting it again and again, and looking forward to the next edition as the year draws to a close.

 PRAISE FOR PREVIOUS ALMANACS

 ‘Indispensable’ – SIR BOB GELDOF

 ‘This book is your bible’ – THE INDEPENDENT

‘I love this gem of a book’ – CERYS MATTHEWS

‘Lia Leendertz’s classic almanac never fails to delight’ – THE HERALD

‘It’s a perfect Christmas present’ – ALLAN JENKINS, THE OBSERVER

 ‘The perfect companion to the seasons’ – INDIA KNIGHT

Thoughts from the Emporium

As you can see from the sample pages below, the beauty of the cover continued inside and gave the level of information hit the criteria Amber wanted.

Sample of the pages

As a keen amatuer gardener she enjoyed the reminder of jobs she needed to do and the recipes helped her connect the nature she loves to the kitchen she doesn’t. Most of all, she loved the easy to reach tide and celestial information without reaching for her phone.

Divided into month’s the information is accessible and diverse. With the clear layout, its it was easy to read and space to add her own notes in the margins.

This almanac is all she wanted. The compact size means it can be easily slipped inside a bag enabling it to be a constant companion for easy reference. It will be well loved over the year like Willow’s. Recommended for those who love nature, gardening or want to connect to the world around them. It will make a wondeful gift.

Author Biography

Lia Leendertz is an award winning garden and food writer based in Bristol. Her reinvention of the traditional rural almanac has become an annual must-have for readers eager to connect with the seasons, appreciate the outdoors and discover ways to mark and celebrate each month. Now established as the bestselling almanac on the market, this is the sixth instalment.

Social media

Website: Lialeendertz.com

Instagram: @lia_leendertz

Twitter: @lialeendertz

Book Highlight: Silverweed Road by Simon Crook

A new book has arrived on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf, courtesy of Random Things Tours and it promises to provide its readers nightmares before Halloween. Silverweed Road by Simon Crook has an unusual premise and Amber can’t wait to read and give her honest opinion soon. Watch this space.

Want to know more? Scroll down for its horrifying blurb

Book cover of Silverweed Road by Simon Crook
Silverweed Road by Simon Crook

Title: Silverweed Road

Author: Simon Crook

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Horror, anthology

Release Date: 29th September 2022

Blurb

Welcome to Silverweed Road – a once quiet suburban street where nothing is quite as it seems. In this macabre collection of twisted tales, were-foxes prowl, a swimming pool turns predatory, a haunted urn plots revenge and a darts player makes a deal with the devil himself. As the residents vanish one by one, a sinister mystery slowly unpeels, lurking in the Woods at the road’s dead-end. Creepy, chilling, and witty by turn, Silverweed Road deals in love, loss, isolation, loneliness, obsession, greed,and revenge. Come take a walk through suburban hell. The neighbours will be dying to meet you …

Author Biography

Photo of Simon Crook. White male looking straight at the camera with a purple filter across to look spooky
Simon Crook

Simon Crook has been a film journalist for over 20 years, travelling the world visiting film sets and interviewing talent for Empire Magazine. A new and exciting voice in domestic horror, he is perfectly placed to translate the recent successes of the genre from the silver screen to the written word – while adding something new and wholly his own.

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Book Review: The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson

When The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson appeared on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf courtesy of Random Things Tours, there was a audible gasp of awe at the cover. With it’s distinctive red gothic imagery on a black background, it lured both the witches in. With an intriguing blurb linking a crime thriller with the occult, both wanted to read it first. By the toss of the coin, Amber won.

Scroll down to see their honest and unbiased review.

Book Review: The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson

Book cover for The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson
The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson

Title: The Bleeding

Author: Johana Gustawsson

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Horror, Gothic thriller

Release Date: 15th September 2022

Blurb

1899, Belle Époque Paris. Lucienne’s two daughters are believed dead when her mansion burns to the ground, but she is certain that her girls are still alive and embarks on a journey into the depths of the spiritualist community to find them.

1949, Post-War Québec. Teenager Lina’s father has died in the French Resistance, and as she struggles to fit in at school, her mother introduces her to an elderly woman at the asylum where she works, changing Lina’s life in the darkest way imaginable.

2002, Quebec. A former schoolteacher is accused of brutally stabbing her husband – a famous university professor – to death. Detective Maxine Grant, who has recently lost her own husband and is parenting a teenager and a new baby single-handedly, takes on the investigation.
Under enormous personal pressure, Maxine makes a series of macabre discoveries that link directly to historical cases involving black magic and murder, secret societies and spiritism … and women at breaking point, who will stop at nothing to protect the ones.

Thoughts from the Emporium

The Bleeding is deliciously dark and atmospheric, and blends the forensic police procedural timeline of Maxine, with the historical threads of Lina and Lucienne effortlessly.

From the first chapter, Amber and Willow were hooked. Despite the initial discovery of a mummified hand giving them an indication of where the story would go, the writing style, and the shocking twists in each thread kept them turning the page.

Willow felt the heartache of Lucienne’s grief and the mystery of her daughters’ deaths encouraged her forward while Amber related hard to Lina’s experiences at school. She could understand Lina’s emotions and the need for a confidante and mentor. With the atmospheric backdrop of an old asylum, the tension increased when the timeline unfolded with dark magic twists. It was a book to read into the early hours of the morning and neither guessed the ending.

Amber raved about this book and has recommended it to her friends but while Willow galloped through it with enthusiasm, a couple of historical niggles in Lucienne’s line prevented her from giving it full five stars.

Despite their differences, both agreed it’s an ideal creepy and unnerving read for these darker nights in the run up to Halloween. With its genre crossover, it would appeal to those who love crime novels as well as those who enjoy horror and gothic thrillers

Author Biography


 black and white photo of Johana Gustawsson
Johana Gustawsson

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, including Block 46, Keeper and Blood Song, has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte,Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in 28 countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. The Bleeding – number one bestseller in France and the first in a new series – will be published in 2022. Johana
lives on the west coast of Sweden with her Swedish husband and their three sons.

Book Review: The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais

It’s Wednesday! The ideal day to share our review for a witchy book which landed on the bookshelf thanks to Random Things Tours. The blurb and cover captivated the witches and then they demanded Rosa to read. Find out why they were so adamant she tried it below.

Book Review: The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais

Book cover for The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais
Blue cover with witchy paraphernalia dotted around a gold cauldron
The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais

Title: The Witches of Moonshyne Manor

Author: Bianca Marais

Publisher: Harper 360

Genre: witchlit, fiction

Release Date: 23rd August 2022

Blurb

The House in the Cerulean Sea meets The Golden Girls in this funny, tender, and uplifting feminist tale of sisterhood featuring a coven of aging witches who must unite their powers to fight the men determined to drive them out of their home and town.

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

Summoned by an alarm, five octogenarian witches gather around Ursula when danger is revealed to her in a vision. An angry mob of townsmen is advancing with a wrecking ball, determined to demolish Moonshyne Manor and Distillery. All eyes turn to Queenie—as the witch in charge, it’s her job to reassure them—but she confesses they’ve fallen far behind on their mortgage payments and property taxes. Queenie has been counting on Ruby’s return in two days to fix everything. Ruby is the only one who knows where the treasure is hidden, those valuable artifacts stolen 33 years ago on the night when everything went horribly wrong. Why didn’t clairvoyant Ursula see this coming sooner? Wasn’t Ivy supposed to be working her botanical magic to keep the townsmen in a state of perpetual drugged calm, all while Jezebel quelled revolts through seductive bewitchment?

 The mob is only the start of the witches’ troubles. Brad Gedney, a distant cousin of Ivy, is hellbent on avenging his family for the theft of a legacy that was rightfully his. In an act of desperation, Queenie makes a bargain with an evil far more powerful than anything they’ve ever faced. And things take a turn for the worse when Ruby’s homecoming reveals a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

 In a race against time, the women have nine days to save their home and business. The witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but fear their aging powers are no match against increasingly malicious threats. Thankfully, they get a bit of extra help from Persephone, a feisty TikToker eager to smash the patriarchy. As the deadline 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 WITCHES OF MOONSHYNE MANOR explores the formidable power that can be discovered in aging, found family, and unlikely friendships. Marais’ true power is her clever prose that 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. Both heartbreaking and heart-mending, it will make you wonder: why were we taught to fear the witches, and not the men who burned them? Above all, it will make you grateful for the amazing women in your life.

Thoughts from the Emporium

If last year’s The Ex Hex brought witchy fiction out of the shadows into the wider commercial fiction, The Witches of Moonshyne Manor will cement the sub-genre into its rightful place in commercial fiction. Full of humour, this novel has a cast of six octogenarian witches who have heaps of wisdom, quirks and depth which make them unforgettable. While in most books, there is a clear favourite character, here it is impossible to choose. With Jezebel showing you’re never too old for a healthy sex life, Ivy with her plants and Queenie dedicated to her lab, it’s inspired. Full of magic and uplifting chuckles, its witchlit at its finest.

Everyone found this novel captivating when the tension built as the witches fought against a mob to protect the manor but it is more than a story about survival. It covered the longevity of friendship, betrayal and scandal and captured many observations of life in concise but quirky ways.

The recipes and spells from the Moonshyne grimoire sprinkled between the chapters were a clever addition and brought the readers into the story.

Despite wanting to know the ending, no one wanted the spellbinding book to end and is one of the reasons, those at the emporium think this is a book to read, recommend and treasure. Just like watching Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic is a Halloween tradition, rereading this will be part of the spooky season routine.

Author Biography

Photo of Bianca Marais. GDark haired white woman with grey/blue eyes and pink lipstick
Bianca Marais

Bianca Marais is the author of the beloved Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh (Putnam, 2017 and 2019). She teaches at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies where she was awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award for Creative Writing in 2021. A believer in the power of storytelling in advancing social justice, Marais runs the Eunice Ngogodo Own Voices Initiative to empower young Black women in Africa to write and publish their own stories, and is constantly fundraising to assist grandmothers in Soweto with caring for children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. In 2020, Marais started the popular podcast, The Shit No One Tells You About Writing, which is aimed at helping emerging writers become published.

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Book Review: The Ghost in Ivy Barn by Mark Stay

The staff at the Enchanted Emporium were thrilled to discover an advanced copy of the third book in the Witches of Woodville series on the bookshelf, thanks to Random Things Tours. Arguments ensued about who would be the first to read The Ghost in the Ivy Barn but Willow won. There are advantages to being the boss.

Scroll down to see if this book matched the joy of the previous books, The Crow Folk and Babes in the Wood.

Book Review: The Ghost in Ivy Barn by Mark Stay

Book cover for The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay. Predominately blue cover of a rural village landscape with a bright light coming from a barn.
The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay

Title: The Ghost of Ivy Barn

Author: Mark Stay

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: YA, fantasy, witchlit

Release Date: 7th July 2022

Blurb

August, 1940.

 As the Battle of Britain rages overhead, a warlock leader from the Council of High Witches comes to Woodville with a ritual to repel the imminent Nazi invasion. The only catch is it involves full-frontal nudity on the White Cliffs of Dover. The Witches of Woodville are having none of it, but when more witches arrive they realise they might have a spy in their midst, and it’s up to Faye Bright to uncover the traitor.

But she’s got enough on her plate already with the ghost of a Polish Hurricane pilot who may hold the key to the truth.

Thoughts From The Emporium

The witches didn’t think this series could get better, but they were wrong. This is the best book yet – full of humour, magic, betrayal and murder, with a slight inkling of romance between Faye and Bertie.

Like the others in the series, there is a strong sense of place – not only in location but in time. The reader is immersed in the village life which continues despite the increased threat from the Nazis invasion and they feels the collective responsibility people had. Everyone was expected to do their bit for the war effort, witches included.

Amber was excited to read about Faye Bright’s evolving powers and the surprising effects it had on the others, while Willow was hoping the antics of the trio of Woodville witches wouldn’t give her own mentee ideas. Charlotte, Mrs Teach and Faye are witches and women to aspire to with their individual quirks, self-awareness and strong views. There is a witch for everyone.

The dialogue and bickering between the characters allowed their personalities to shine and the more you get to know the witches and the side characters, the more they are loved. The introduction of new witches, including the nudity loving Mrs Housego and formidable Vera Fivetrees added to this book’s charm.

The ghost in the barn and the surrounding mystery added to the tension. With highly visual and creepy scenes, Amber, Willow and Rosa kept reading to see how this thread fitted in with the rest of the story.

Though this novel could be read as a standalone, these events lead on from those in book 2, Babes in the Wood and readers would gain more enjoyment if they read the series from the beginning and watch the relationships and story develop.

This gripping book showcases superb word building and imaginative plot twists perfectly blended with humour and community of times past. Despite the dangers the characters face, this series provide an ideal escape from reality. The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf considers them to be some of the best examples of witchy literature and they appeal to a range of ages. Rosa can’t wait until her son, Alejo, is old enough to read them.

Mrs Marley (one of the Emporium’s resident ghosts) is currently listening to the audio version and is pleased it continues to be narrated by Candida Gubbins.

Just in case you need more tempting to try this series, watch this unique unboxing of the new books

The best unboxing video to tempt you to read 📚

Author Biography

Photo of author Mark Stay.
Mark Stay

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben
Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com.

A huge thank you to Random Thing Tours for inviting us to this tour and providing an advanced copy for the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

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