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.

Other blogs on the tour

19th Sep
IG: Iamessgarcia bookshineandreadbows @bookshineblog
bookishdreamer3 IG: bookishedreamer58

20th Sept

Secretworldofabook @secretwofabook
Readerofrivendell @readerofrivende
apartofyourbookworld @apartofyourbook
21st Sept
Book Before U leap @bookleap
IG: ashleighheartsbooks
IG: katebubsbooks

22nd Sept
IG: stratospherekawaiigirl crooksbooks @beckyc_89
bethanys bookshelf @_thisisbethany

23rd Sept
IG: karenandherbooks cookiebiscuit @cookiebiscuit
Read Write Inspire @fluttermouse

26th Sept
draliceviolett.com @alicetheunique book-for-thought @bookforthought
bakers not so secret @bakersNNSblog

27th Sept

IG: boozy_bookaholics IG: penfoldlayla IG: whatjaneyreads

28th Sept
theenchantedemporiumbookshelf @witchesofwhitby bookshortie @bookshortie1 
IG: staceywh_17

29th Sept
thepufflehuffkittehreads @pufflekitteh calturnerreviews @calturner
ramblingmads @ramblinfmads

30 Sept

IG: books.brownies.etc booksteaandme @booksteaandme1
budgettalesblog @emilypankhurs12

Monday Merry Meet: Kate Johnson

Welcome to the last Monday of September. With celebrations of Mabon over, the staff at the Emporium are gearing up for the busiest times of the year, Halloween. Where as Willow used to have a subtle approach to the season, under Amber’s influence and Rosa’s romantic view of the Halloween decorations have exploded this year. Amidst the chaos, they are delighted to catch up with author Kate Johnson. Her latest novel, The Hex Appeal was loved by everyone and provided chuckles and endless imagination on every page.

Amber sees it as a blueprint of how a witch should live without the constraints of normality while Willow thinks she has enough to contend with with the clashes between Vincent and the resident ghost feline, never mind flying glass parrots.

Monday Merry Meet: Kate Johnson

Cobwebs at old window
Image by Myri Roet from Pixabay

Willow: Hi Kate. It’s so lovely to see you. Mind your head when you come through to the back, Amber attempted to talk to the spiders to make extra cobwebs for Halloween decorations and they’ve taken it to the extreme. It’s like walking into Shelob’s lair. She has convinced them to depart the Emporium while we chat, just in case you are arachnophobic.

Kate: That’s fine. You should see my house. The spiders are both entertainment and food for the kittens.

Willow: That sounds mayhem. Rosa’s putting the kettle on. What would you like to drink? We have a range of teas, including Yorkshire, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger? We had a good harvest of damsons last year so have some damson gin.

Kate: Damson gin will do nicely, thanks.

Amber: We’ve all read your new novel, Hex Appeal and were blown away by your world building in Beldam House. It was full of small details that made the house feel alive. Did you have as much fun writing this book as it appears on the page?

Kate: So much fun! I sat back and thought about the things you get in witch stories, and the things that had been weird or amusing to me recently, and then just… amplified them. I started growing carnivorous plants in the first lockdown, and they can be quite spectacular. So they had to go in the book. And I really liked the idea of a house that changed to suit your needs, like the house in Encanto (and how’s this for a sign: my new kittens were nicknamed the Encanto kittens by the RSPCA: it was meant to be!). The village of Good Winter is a mixture of the village where I live and others around it—even the names aren’t entirely out of the realms of possibility: we have a Good Easter and a Cold Christmas, and there’s a Beldam’s Lane and Gall End (that being short for gallows) around here too.

Willow: They’re fantastic names. Essie and her family are a fantastic group of witches, each with their unique abilities. What came first in the writing process, characters or plot?

Characters, always. I spent a while thinking about Essie and her backstory, and Josh and his, and how the two would come together, clash, push and pull each other. I kind of thought of the household a bit like What We Do In The Shadows: a disparate group of people who only have one thing in common, but it’s a really big thing, so it’s what binds them. As for plot… I never usually plot. I just went, “Blah blah, Witchfinder General, great evil threatens the earth, somehow they’ll fix it, now on with the witty banter!”

Amber: He brings us to the next question. The threat in Hex Appeal is based on the Essex witch trials and the general witchfinder. What made you choose this part of history as the novel’s foundation?

Kate: Well, he’s the most famous person associated with witches hereabouts. Essex has a strong association with witches, and in fact more people were executed as witches in Essex than any other English county. This is almost entirely down to Matthew Hopkins, who was less a witchfinder than a con artist who profited from the persecution of helpless people, mostly women, and didn’t care much that they could—and often did—end up being hanged. It honestly amazed me that he isn’t considered a serial killer. The number of deaths he’s responsible for is in the hundreds.

An etching of Matthew Hopkins the General Witchfinder. Man wearing tall hat, breeches and moustache and short pointy beard.
Mathew Hopkins The General Witchfinder

Willow: We agree.  Evil man. I’ve also read Little Haunting by the Sea about the relationship between Jen and a Victorian child only she can see. Have you had any paranormal experiences and has that influenced you work?

You’d expect so, but no! But then again I have fierce protection. A while ago one of my cats sat on the sofa beside me, and really took umbridge at a patch of empty air a foot or so in front of her. Hissing and growling like mad. Then she suddenly stopped and began to purr. Now, was she fighting off an invisible demon for me? She’ll never tell.

black kitten hissing
Image by ktphotography from Pixabay

Amber: She sounds a good protector. We’re gearing up to celebrate Halloween, is it something you celebrate or avoid?

Kate: Unsurprisingly, I absolutely love Halloween! I always have. I take my costuming quite seriously and have an impromptu lecture prepared for when people tell me “It’s all very American,” because my friend, it’s more British than queuing in the rain to see the Queen. In fact it’s the origins of Halloween that form an important plot point in Hex Appeal: the festival of Samhain, which wasn’t always a fixed date but fell at the midpoint between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. It’s very much the nightfall of the year, when there is more dark than light and the cold settles in for the winter.

Rosa: We love being nosy. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Oh… long. Recently at a writing event the chair of the panel referred to me as the “longest-serving” and none of us could work out how many books I’d written (including me). I started writing for small presses, then slightly larger ones, then larger still. There have been a few small disasters, but nothing I really regret doing.

 I think the only change I’d make to that journey was holding my horses a bit when I first began submitting, because none of those books were remotely ready! I’m very glad self-publishing wasn’t around back then, because I’d probably have thrown up some very green books and set myself back.

Amber: I like to dabble in writing. What advice would you give new writers?

Kate: It’s like any craft: you’ve got to put the hours in. Read everything in your chosen genre (and outside it too!) and write lots. Be prepared to discard a lot, and I mean a lot. Be sensitive to the world around you but develop a thick skin for criticism.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Kate: Ooh. A good night’s sleep. Or confidence. (Do you have one that helps with indecision?)

Amber: Now that would be a bestseller. We have a candle that invokes memories of your perfect season? Where would it take you?

Kate: Autumn. A proper crisp autumn, where it’s cold enough to wear a pretty coat and a cute hat. Crunchy leaves underfoot, the scent of woodsmoke in the air, a cosy blanket in the evenings. Bliss!

Autumnal coloured maple leaves
Image by Shirley Hirst from Pixabay

Willow: I agree with you there. If we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

You know what, I’d like a potion that helps me learn things really quickly. So I could play the piano, speak fluent French, understand the causes of WWI, that kind of thing. So long as I don’t lose the memories after 24 hours!

Willow: Losing all that knowledge would be cruel. The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf is always on the lookout for new books. What book would you add to it?

Kate: Jessica Thorne’s The Water Witch. It weaves in wonderful Breton folklore with a modern romance. I love Jessica’s books (also check out her Ruth Frances Long YA titles, which are brilliant and include English and Irish folklore).

Rosa: I’ve seen The Water Witch on the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf and She’s rumoured to be popping in soon. I adore romance novels and have a box full of them to share with customers. What would you add to it?

Kate: My absolute favourite romance author is Jennifer ruise. I pick her up whenever I need to remember how to be funny. I also want to recommend Jeevani Charika, who writes lovely warm romcoms with British Asian characters.

Willow: Finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Kate: Hex Appeal has been such a whirlwind I haven’t started work on a new book yet—but I have a couple of projects on the back burner. I’m hoping to do more paranormal romance, but exactly what flavour…? We’ll see.

Willow: Thanks for visiting and if Essie, Blessing, Avery, Maude, or even Lilith are in the area, please tell them to pop in. We will have lots to talk about.

Kate: If Lilith pops in, I apologise in advance.

Willow: Ha ha we’ll have to make provisions for that outcome. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

Author Biography

Photo of Kate Johnson. Smiling white woman with pink wavy hair
Kate Johnson

Kate Johnson is a Romantic Novel of the Year Award-winning author of romantic, mystery, and science fiction and not a stack of cats inside a raincoat, as many people believe. Kate lives in Essex with a small pride of cats, and writes books because actually being a space pirate, witch or murderer sounds like hard work.

Social media

Twitter, instagram & TikTok: @K8johnsonauthor

Facebook: @catmarsters

Book cover for The Hex Appeal by Kate Johnson. Dark purple backgound, white font entwined with green foliage. A cottage is at the bottom and a dungaree wearing woman is on the upper right side while a man is on the left looking at her
The Hex Appeal by Kate Johnosn

Blurb

Encanto meets Hocus Pocus in this perfect witchy romcom. An absolute must-read if you love Erin Sterling’s The Ex Hex and Lana Harper’s Payback’s a Witch!

It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus…

Essie Winterscale lives in a huge and ever-changing house in the village of Good Winter, in deepest, darkest Essex. She lives with various witches of various ages, one of whom is still a bit salty about having been burned at the stake in 1635, one who keeps accidentally casting fertility spells, and one who knits things that create the future.

All Essie ever wanted was to have a normal life but in the end she found herself drawn back to Beldam House because she just can’t stop her witchiness (although the ability to instantly chill wine is pretty awesome, even she has to admit).

Into this coven of chaos stumbles gorgeous, clueless Josh, their new landlord – and he’s just discovered his tenants haven’t paid rent since the 1700s! As Josh is drawn further into the lives of the inhabitants of Beldam House, Essie is determined to keep him at broomstick’s length. That is, until a family secret, lying hidden for centuries, puts Josh firmly under her spell…

‘Funny, smart and sassy…No one creates such brilliant worlds quite like Kate does’ Julie Caplin

Book Review: Spooky Ambiguous Ghost stories and poetry, fangs and fairy tales

With October only a couple of weeks away, the Enchanted Emporium is overflowing with books it recommends for the spooky season. A new arrival and one, Willow and Amber adored is Spooky Ambiguous by a collection of authors. Scroll down to see why.

Book Review: Spooky Ambiguous Ghost stories and poetry, fangs and fairy tales

Book cover for Spooky Ambiguous.
Dark cover, painted with shading representing a sea and the sky. A red full moon in the right hand corner with 2 birds flying by
Spooky Ambiguous

Title: Spooky Ambiguous

Author: Penny Ayers, Michael Bartlett, Patrick Booth, Amaris Chase, Holly Anne Crawford, Ivor Daniel, Amanda Jane Davies, Daphne Denley, J. J. Drover, Harriet Hitchen, Rebecca McDowall, Jane Phillips, Angela Reddaway, Joe Robson, Margaret Royall. Illustrations by Lorna Gray

Publisher: Crump Barn Studio

Genre: Horror, Gothic

Release Date: 15th September 2022

Blurb

Ghosts and vampires, zombies and werewolves. A mirror with danger at its heart.

A child is delighted to discover she is a witch, and a village disappears under a fairy curse.

Then a selkie finds her way back to the waves, before a blood moon rises, bringing its own secrets …

Full of the spooky and the gothic, fairy tales and poetry, this is a brilliant and intriguing collection where nothing and no one is as they seem.

Thoughts form the Emporium

This small anthology is a deliciously dark, gothic collection of poetry and short stories from several talented authors. We’d read previously read Regan by Rebecca McDowell so we knew if she was included in the book, the other authors would be of high standard. We weren’t wrong.

Some of these stories were spooky enough to give goosebumps and Amber’s fear of mirrors was reactivated by Michael Bartlett’s Mirror, Mirror. The haunting poetry drew us into other places and danger and we particularly loved Corpse Light by Amaris Chase. Living near the Yorkshires Moors, we will heed the tales warning.

It’s an ideal book to dip into on the darker evenings, share around the fire just like our ancestors did and treasure for future Halloweens.

Beautiful dark illustrations

Thank you Crump Barn Studio for inviting us to this tour and providing a copy to the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf so we could provide an honest and unbiased opinion.

Monday Merry Meet: Christina Courtenay

After the shock news about our Queen Elizabeth, it’s been a hard weekend and has affected all in the Emporium. Complimentary ‘hug and love’ tea has been added to each purchase to provide the feeling of a calming embrace to all who require one. She had a more of an impact on everyone’s lives than we realised and will be missed. Only Percy and the Marleys have known other monarchs in their lifetimes.

On a lighter note, today we are delighted to welcome Christina Courtenay, author of many timeslip novels to chat about her books and writing.

Monday Merry Meet: Christina Courtenay

Rosa: Hi Christina, Willow will be with you shortly. She is just dealing with a time crucial spell. It’s a pongy one, and the stench has crept out of the workroom into the backroom so we’ll chat out here on the shop floor if that’s ok? Can I get you a drink? You can choose any tea blend we stock, coffee or something stronger?

Christina: Thank you, any kind of fruit tea would be lovely – blackcurrant, perhaps? With lots of milk and sugar, please.

Vintage cup and saucer of tea
Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

Willow: Hi Christina, glad you have a drink. Did Rosa explain about the backroom? No one wants to sit in a room that stinks of rotten eggs. Amber sends her apologies too: she’s stuck at college today. Have a seat.

Your latest novel is called Hidden in the Mists. Please, can you tell us more about the inspiration behind it?

Christina: Hidden in the Mists was inspired by a combination of the Galloway Hoard (a Viking treasure found in Galloway in 2014) and the west coast of Scotland. During the Covid lockdown, I was trying to come up with ideas for a story where I was already familiar with the setting, as we weren’t allowed to travel. I’ve always loved Scotland and have a friend who lives on the coast just opposite the island of Jura, so that seemed ideal. (She was able to help with details if my memory failed). And the hoard found in Galloway had long been on my mind as I wondered what it would feel like to find something like that and why someone would bury a treasure and then not return for it. The ideas for the plot grew from that.

Rosa: Your novels are a combination of sweeping romances and time-slip. What made you choose this genre mix?

Christina: Ever since I read my first time-slip (or dual time, as some people call it) novel, I’ve been drawn to this sub-genre. I think it’s a combination of the paranormal/magical possibilities and the fact that you get to have two love stories for the price of one, as it were. There are usually two couples, one in the past and one in the present, and they are connected through time somehow. The idea of twin souls or two people destined to love each other for eternity and through the passage of time really appeals to me.

Willow: We love to hear about writer’s publication journeys. What has yours been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Christina: My road to publication was very long! I started writing when my older daughter was a baby as I wanted a job I could do while still being a stay-at-home mum to her, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. (I was very naïve!) I eventually got published the week after she left home aged 21, so things didn’t quite go to plan … But perseverance pays off! I don’t think I would have done anything differently as I did everything I could to learn and improve as a writer during those years.

Rosa: Do you have a set writing routine?

Christina: No, not really. I try to write every day or if I’m not writing; I do research and take notes. But sometimes the words just don’t flow and I give myself time off until inspiration strikes. If I am feeling inspired, I can write all day and all night so it evens out eventually.

Willow: Several customers long to be writers. What advice would you give to those wanting to give it a try?

Christina: Join some kind of writing group or organisation and try to learn as much as possible about the craft of writing. And, if possible, find yourself a writing buddy – someone who is at the same stage in the process as yourself and whose opinion you trust. Writing can be a very lonely business and it’s great to get to know other authors who understand the journey you are on. I belong to the Romantic Novelists’ Association, for example, and they have lots of events and regional groups where the members support each other. That’s been brilliant for me!

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Christina: I think I would choose luck, because that’s always useful, or possibly confidence – as an author, it is very easy to lose confidence in your own writing and start to doubt what you are doing.

Willow: One candle we stock invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit? Where would it take you?

Christina: Probably to Japan during cherry blossom season. It is one of my favourite countries and there is so much to see and do – I just love it there!

Willow: I agree with you. I loved Japan when I visited and the cherry blossom is spectacular.

Rosa: If you could spend a week in a different era, when would it be and would it be in a particular location?

Christina: Obviously, I’d love to go back to Viking times and it would be fun to spend time in one of the trading towns like Birka or Jorvik.

Willow: Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium, have you had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Christina: Personally I haven’t experienced anything paranormal, but I used to stay regularly at a 600-year old manor house which had a resident ghost. The owners had seen him and he was young, handsome, blond and wearing chain mail, so I was very upset that I didn’t get to meet him. I did base a story on him and that house though – The Silent Touch of Shadows – so I got to spend time with him in my imagination at least.

Willow: He sounds fascinating and we’ll have to keep an eye out for that book. It’s added to my TBR list. If we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Christina: I’d like to be able to travel in the blink of an eye as I hate travelling – traffic jams, long journeys, airplanes … could really do without those!

Willow: Good choice. What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Christina: I love Sarah J Maas’s series starting with A Court of Thorns and Roses, it’s fantastic! But I’d recommend adding any books by Susanna Kearsley, Nicola Cornick or Barbara Erskine too.

Rosa: We’re all Barbara Erskine fans here. How important is a happy ever after ending to you and which romance would you add to my box of Romance?

Christina: The happy ever after ending is everything! I refuse to read books that don’t have a HEA (and yes, I have been known to check before buying) as I feel that the real world is too depressing and we need happiness in the stories we read. I read so many wonderful romance books it’s hard to choose just one, but anything by Sue Moorcroft is always guaranteed to be wonderful.

Willow: She is a great author to read at Christmas. Finally, what are you working on now or is it top secret?

Christina: I’m working on the next book in my Vikings Runes series – Promises of the Runes – which will be published in April next year. It’s the story of Ivar Thoresson, a 21st century archaeologist who decides to travel back to the Viking era to see what it was like. And the reality is a lot more than he expected …

Willow and Rosa: Thanks so much for visiting. It’s been lovely to chat.

Christina: Thank you so much for inviting me!

Book cover for Hidden in the Mist by Christina Courtenay

blue cover with red trees poking out through a mist and a woman in a cloak walking towards them.
Hidden in the Mists by Christina Courtenay

Blurb

A love forged in fire lives on through the ages

Skye Logan has been struggling to run her remote farm on Scotland’s west coast alone ever since her marriage fell apart. When a handsome stranger turns up looking for work, it seems that her wish for help has been granted.

Rafe Carlisle is searching for peace and somewhere he can forget about the last few years. But echoes of the distant past won’t leave Skye and Rafe alone, and they begin to experience vivid dreams which appear to be linked to the Viking jewellery they each wear.

It seems that the ghosts of the past have secrets . . . and they have something that they want Skye and Rafe to know.

Author biography

Photo of Christina Courtenay. A white woman with wonderful long ringlety reddish hair. Wearing a black jumper
Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014) and the RNA Fantasy Romantic Novel of the year 2021 with Echoes of the RunesHidden in the Mists (timeslip/dual time romance published by Headline Review 18th August 2022) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Social Media:-

http://www.christinacourtenay.com

https://www.facebook.com/christinacourtenayauthor?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/PiaCCourtenay

https://www.instagram.com/ChristinaCourtenayAuthor/

Book Review: Waking the Witch by Rachel Burge

With a wet start to the day at Whitby, it’s time to share another review from the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf. With a vibrant book cover, Waking the Witch by Rachel Burge caught Amber’s attention when it arrived courtesy of Bonnier. Scroll down for her unbiased opinion.

Book Review: Waking the Witch by Rachel Burge

Cover for Waking the Witch by Rachel Burge,
Red and white lighthouse emitting red rays of light. A large black cormorant with wings spread in the fore ground is guarding a person in the foetal position. They are surrounded by a circle of runes.
Waking the Witch by Rachel Burge

Title: Waking the Witch

Author: Rachel Burge

Publisher: Bonnier

Genre: YA fantasy, witchlit

Release Date: 18th September 2022

Blurb

A darkly spellbinding story of witches, sisterhood and coming of age, steeped in Welsh mythology and Arthurian legend.

Ivy has spent years looking for her birth mother, but when she finally finds her on Bardsey Island, she is shocked by what greets her. According to folklore, the cormorants that fly over the remote Welsh isle are the terrifying witches of Arthurian legend – and they are searching for Ivy.

Her mum warned her not to come and to stay away from the lighthouse, but now it’s too late. As the shadows draw closer, Ivy must look deep within herself if she wants to survive. For not every story in folklore is true, and some evils aren’t what they seem…

An unputdownable new stand-alone novel from the bestselling author of THE TWISTED TREE and THE CROOKED MASK.

Thoughts from the Emporium

Waking the Witch resulted in Amber having no sleep and arriving late and bleary eyed for her weekend shift at The Enchanted Emporium. Thank the Goddess for the glamour spell she’d been practising. From the first page she was hooked. Having discovered her own powers as an adolescence, she related to Ivy’s bewilderment and fear as magic entered her life with horrifying results. Amber found it impossible to put the book down as Ivy made the road trip to the remote island and the awaiting dangers. The haunting imagery of the cormorants and witches are powerful and added to the tension as Ivy’s past was revealed.

Amber’s patchy knowledge of the Arthurian legends didn’t put her at a disadvantage as the folklore was explained in the prose but it has made her want to read more. There is so much more to them than the few episodes of Merlin she’s watched. Spellbound the ending arrived too quickly and longed fro more. She didn’t want to let the characters go. She hopes the standalone statement in the blurb is a lie and there will be a sequel. Until then, she’ll recommend it to other witches visiting the store and put it on her reread pile.

Its perfect for the upcoming spooky season and beyond.

Author Biography

photo of author Rachel Burge. White woman with beaming smile and brown straight long hair
Rachel Burge

Website: https://rachelburge.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelABurge

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelburgewriter/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rachelburgeauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/burge0709/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/rachelburge99

Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

As far as those at the Enchanted Emporium is concerned, September is really a precursor to Halloween so it’s the ideal time to share reviews for witchy books old and new. The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke was released last year but deserves to be shouted about again now it’s spooky season.

With a hauntingly beautiful cover, it oozed darkness and menacing which meant Amber couldn’t wait to read it. Scroll down to see if it met her expectations.

Book Review: The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke

Book cover for The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke. Dark cover with red and black lighthouse amidst dark blue and grey stylised waves.
The Lighthouse Witches by C.J Cooke


Title:
The Lighthouse Witches

Author: C.J Cooke

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: witchlit, paranormal, Gothic

Release Date: 30th September 2021

Blurb

The brand-new chilling gothic thriller from the bestselling author . . .

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse. A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms. Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation.

Coincidence? Or curse? Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left. Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

Thoughts from The Emporium

Based on an isolated Scottish island, The Lighthouse Witches is a deliciously dark tale full of gothic atmosphere. The descriptions of the lighthouse’s interior provided the location for an unnerving, fear based reading experience. Told by several narrators, including an ancient grimoire, it followed Luna as she returns to the island to discover the truth about her mother and sisters disappearance in 1998. The hostile welcome from the close-knit community added to the mystery and tension. With links to the 17th century Scottish witch trials, both witches were hooked until the end. Even then their thoughts were drawn back to it. Thankfully, they had each other to discuss things with.

There were moments when Amber wondered how dark the story would go and began reading behind a cushion, Dr Who style. It may not be graphic but it forced both witches to use their imagination which may have made things worse. With increased tension, it hurtled towards an unexpected but satisfying conclusion.

If you want a chilling witchy pageturner with strong female characters, this is one to pull from a bookshelf. A perfect Halloween read.

Have you read it? The witches would love to know you thoughts.

Author Biography

black and white photo of author C.J Cooke. White woman with dark shoulder length hair and friendly smile
Author C.J Cooke

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications written under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Her work has been published in twentythree languages to date. Born in Belfast, C.J. has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. C.J. Cooke lives in Glasgow with her husband and four children. She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.

Monday Merry Meet: Lilian Brooks

Welcome to another Monday. This week we’re excited to chat to Lilian Brooks. Her debut novel Dormant Magick, follows Alyssa Bright when she returns to her hometown, Whitby from New York city after her suppressed magic wakes up with devastating results. With a blurb like that, we were thrilled to find a copy on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf and after reading, we needed to find out more about Lilian herself.

Photo of blue teapot, teacup and whittards tin of tea and a kindle showong the cover of Dormant Magick by Lilian Brooks
Tea and a magical read is the perfect combo

Monday Merry Meet: Lilian Brooks

Willow: Hi, we’re so excited to have an author who writes about fellow witches from our hometown to join us for a chat. Come through to the back of the shop and have a seat. I’ll pop the kettle on. Would you like a cup of Yorkshire tea, herbal teas, coffee or something stronger. I’m experimenting with different flavoured gins or a customer has left a bottle of parsnip wine.

Lilian: Thank you for inviting me – I’m so excited to be here! Wow, your shop is amazing! I think I’ll pass on the parsnip wine for now thanks, but I’d love a cup of coffee. I’m mostly powered by caffeine these days!

Amber:  We discovered your book on Instagram. How has your publication journey been? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Lilian: It’s been a lot of fun! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve been really lucky because I’ve connected with a few people that have read the book and enjoyed it, both on Instagram and on Twitter. It’s been fantastic getting such nice feedback from people and hearing from them about their take on the story and the characters.

Willow: Your novel, Dormant Magick is based in Whitby like our humble shop. Why did you choose this location and what is your favourite part of town?

Lilian: I’ve always been fascinated with Whitby. I live nearby, and I visit whenever I get the chance. I’d had an idea in my head for a while about a coven of witches that use magick based around the elements, and with Whitby having such a great supernatural history it seemed like a perfect fit. There are so many beautiful places in Whitby (and most have them have made it into the book!) but I think my favourite place would have to be the beach just below West Cliff at sunset.

Willow: The arrival of the witch hunter in town gave us both nightmares. What came first your characters or plot?

Lilian: Oh no! I’m sorry about that. Alyssa, my main character, arrived more or less fully formed. My initial ideas for her ended up being almost identical to how she is in the book. I had the bare bones of the plot, but it wasn’t until I had the other three members of the coven (Oliver, Izzy and Cameron) worked out that everything really fell into place.

Amber: What is your writing routine?

Lilian: I’m a planner so I usually spend a couple of weeks developing the structure and outline before I put any of the story on paper. I’m a morning person, so when I’m actually writing I like to get an hour or two done before I start my day job.

Willow: There are times when we consider writing about our lives. Do you have any advice for new writers?

Lilian: You should, I’d love to read it! Two pieces of advice really. Firstly, don’t be afraid to write a terrible first draft because every first draft is terrible! And secondly, give yourself more time than you think you’ll need because, in my experience, every step of the process takes about three times longer than expected!

Willow: We are solitary witches but would love to join your quartet of witches in a coven. If you could choose one element for yourself what type of witch would you be?

Lilian: I’ve always been really drawn to water magick. I think it’s the links to dreams and the power of intuition that I find so interesting. You’d be welcome to join the coven any time! Maybe at one of their celebrations on the beach.

Willow: That sounds a fantastic idea, not that we need an excuse to go to the beach. The Enchanted Emporium sells a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Lilian: Definitely a good night’s sleep! I could do with more of those. Come to think of it, that might have something to do with all the caffeine!

Amber: Maybe you need one of Willow’s sleepy tea blends too. They work  a treat when I overdo the caffeine. One popular candle we stock invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit. Where would it take you?

Lilian: That sounds amazing! It’s a bit of a cliché but I would choose my wedding day.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity? Have had had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Lilian: I actually have had a couple. The cellar of the building that I work in used to be a jail cell and it’s rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a man who died there. Almost everyone I know who’s been down there has either seen or heard the ghost, or at the very least has picked up on the strange energy of the place. I was down there one day, and I turned around to go through the main door (which is a really thick, heavy door that used to be the prison door so that’s a pretty spooky experience in its own right!) just in time to see a figure vanish through the wall. It has definitely influenced my writing, and I think a version of that particular story might make it into a future book!

Photo of a old chest full of potions bottles, a striped feather and other spooky memorabilia
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Willow:  We’ll keep an eye out for it. If the witches could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours what would it be and what would you do with it?

Lilian: I would go really old school and traditional and ask for something to be enchanted so that I could use it for flying! I’m quite clumsy though and I’m not entirely sure I’d trust my balance on a broomstick, so maybe a flying armchair would be more practical.

Willow: What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Lilian: You’ve probably got a copy already, but ‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’ by V.E. Schwab is a great read.

Amber:  That’s one I need to read. What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

Lilian: ‘The Ex Hex’ by Erin Sterling is a really fun, romantic read.

Amber: We loved that one and will definitely check it’s there. What are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Lilian: I’m actually working on the sequel to ‘Dormant Magick’ at the moment. The details are still under wraps, but it’s going to pick up six months after the events in ‘Dormant Magick’ and look at the effect that the revelations have had on the witches in Whitby and in the Scarborough coven. I’m hoping to have it out in the world in time for Mabon in September.

Willow: That’s an ideal time to release a novel and you’ll have to pop back closer to the time. Thanks so much for visiting and here’s a complimentary sachet of sleepy tea for a good night sleep.

Author Biography

Lilian Brooks is a practising pagan, who lives with her partner in a little village in the north of England. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found hiking with her sister, hanging out with her coven, and posting pictures of her cat to social media.

‘Dormant Magick’ is her first book.

You can find out more on

Instagram @lilianxbrooks

Twitter @lilianxbrooks

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lilian-brooks

Book cover for Dormant Magick by Lilian Brooks
Black background with a electric blue circle of water surrounding the book title.
Dormant Magick by Lilian Brooks

Book Review: The Change by Kirsten Miller

No one could miss this book when it arrived on the bookshelf with its simple but effective bright orange and black cover. It promised to be a unique and refreshing read, just what Willow needed after a run in with a certain member of the community. Revenge would have been high on her agenda if there was no consequences so when the book followed her into the store, she suspected her anger would be released into the story.

Scroll down if it hit the spot.

Book Review: The Change by Kirsten Miller

Book cover for The Change by Kirsten Miller
Black background with stylised female face in bold orange and a bee under it.
The Change by Kirsten Miller

Title: The Change

Author: Kirsten Miller

Publisher: HQ

Genre: Feminist fiction, fantasy

Release Date: 18th August 2022

Narrator for the audio version: January LaVoy

Blurb

Nessa: The Seeker
Jo: The Protector
Harriett: The Punisher

With newfound powers the time has come to take matters into their own hands…

After Nessa is widowed and her daughters leave for college, she’s left alone in her house near the ocean. In the quiet hours, she hears voices belonging to the dead – who will only speak to her.

On the cusp of fifty Harriett’s marriage and career imploded, and she hasn’t left her house in months. But her life is far from over – in fact, she’s undergone a stunning metamorphosis.

Jo spent thirty years at war with her body. The rage that arrived with menopause felt like the last straw – until she discovers she’s able to channel it.

Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio discover the abandoned body of a teenage girl. The police have written off the victim. But the women have not. Their own investigations lead them to more bodies and a world of wealth where the rules don’t apply – and the realisation that laws are designed to protect villains, not the vulnerable.

So it’s up to these three women to avenge the innocent, and punish the guilty…

The time has come to embrace The Change.

* * *

‘Part crime thriller, part extended howl of pure rage, The Change takes a scalpel to the cancer of misogyny that infects every cell of western culture, with biting wit and a burning, righteous anger that never lets up. Powerful and original’ Tammy Cohen

‘A brilliant book. Thrilling, fast paced and original. I couldn’t stop reading’ Sarah Morgan

‘A revenge fantasy and feminist fist-pump – and a balm for trying times’ Grazia

Thoughts from the Emporium

Wow, fantastic and superb were the initial reactions by the witches and Rosa when they finished reading The Change. They’re concerned this review won’t do this novel justice. The three women and Kirsten Miller’s narrative are as powerful as the bold cover depicts.

Willow started reading this after a tiresome day involving clashes with several male customers and a run in with a certain estate agent. The first few chapter made her grin and nod in agreement. She was hooked. The three protagonists are all strong women whose personalities leap from the page and their backstories and story arcs are empowering, and equally immersive. When faced with multiple POVs, everyone agreed there is usually one character they preferred, but not in this case. They all have depth and charisma in different ways – Harriet with her purposeful jungle of a garden that Willow wishes to recreate, Jo with her ability to tap into her hot flushes and make people take note, and Nessa with her empathetic ghost hunting. This multi-layered thriller was impossible to put down.

Initially, Amber screwed her teenage nose up at the idea of reading about the menopause, but relented under the insistence of the others and the lure of the paranormal aspects of the novel. Within pages, she was also hooked. Even at 18, she recognised many of the situations the women found themselves in and especially related to Jo’s fight against her own body. Kirsten Miller has captured all the elements of being a woman at different stages of their lives and the keen, witty observations bring all the readers into the story ready to cheer Harriet, Nessa and Jo in their revenge against misogyny in all its forms.

Willow and Mrs Marley listened to the audio version. The narration by January LaVoy takes this already fantastic read to another level. She tackles each character and personality perfectly, breathing extra wit, power and tension into the thriller. With the amount of swearing, Willow had to convince prim Mrs Marley to continue listening but she soon connected with the women and snapped at Willow when she tried to switch it off at bedtime. Mrs Marley wished they had enlightening books like this in her day, when the change and men’s behaviour was something to whispered about or ignored, leaving her and friends suffering in silence and alone.  

Thanks to its unique premise, soul, emotion and thrilling mystery The Change is by far one of the best books this year. It has triggered refreshingly deep conversations about the menopause, female solidarity and misogyny amongst the Emporium’s customers and would be ideal for a book club. The emporium is recommending this to everyone but especially those ordering Willow’s menopausal tea.

Author Biography

Photo of Kirsten Miller. White women with blonde mid length hair, smiling. Wearing a blue shirt
Kirsten Miller

Kirsten Miller grew up in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina. At seventeen, she hit the road and moved to New York City, where she lives to this day. Kirsten’s first adult novel, The Change, is a feel good feminist revenge fantasy–with witches. The Change is a Good Morning America Book Club pick for May 2022. Kirsten also the author of over a dozen middle grade and YA novels, including the acclaimed Kiki Strike books, which tell the tale of the delinquent girl geniuses who keep Manhattan safe, and How to Lead a Life of Crime. She is not the Kirsten Miller who wrote All That Is Left (which appears on the list of the books she’s written), but she assumes that Kirsten is lovely and talented.

A huge thank you to HQ providing an advanced copy on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf for honest and unbiased opinions.

The Enchanted Emporium @kakenzie101
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Bookmarks and stages @lou_bookmarks
All is full of books @allfullofbooks
From First Page to Last @janetemson
Jane Hunt Writer @Jolliff03
Zoe's Book Nook @radley_zoe
Other blogs on the tour

Monday Merry Meet: Author Sharon Booth

It’s a new week and to help shift the Monday blues, we’re excited to host our first author visit at The Enchanted Emporium. Yes, it’s the Monday Merry Meet, and our visitor today is romance author, Sharon Booth.

Sharon has published twenty-three books, and is one of Rosa’s favourite romance authors — she’ll be here shortly I’m sure, when she has recovered from a fan girl moment – and is followed by Willow and Amber, thanks to her witchlit series based in the Yorkshire town of Castle Clair. With witch sisters and their familiars in a town where magic brews, they were hooked. With the upcoming release of her novel, it’s the perfect opportunity for a chat.

Photo of The Witches of Castle Clair series by Sharon Booth.
3 books each has a modern witch on it, 
Belle, Book and Candle is predominently purple
My Favourite Witch is orange
To Catch a Witch is blue
The Witches of Castle Clair series by Sharon Booth

Monday Merry Meet: Author Sharon Booth

Amber: Hi Sharon. Willow will be with you shortly. She’s just finishing brewing the novel dream time draught in the back. It’s a potion created by me but it has to be dealt with carefully, otherwise fumes will put you to sleep in minutes. It makes you dream about the latest book you’ve read. Ideal for romance readers who want to escape reality for a while and linger in communities where everyone pulls together, or explore lush landscapes. I mean, who wouldn’t want to linger in Castle Clair and visit the museum? It doesn’t work so well for those who enjoy psychological thrillers. I’ve had complaints about that one.

Do you want a drink? We have tea, coffee or something stronger. One of our customers brought us some homemade raspberry gin, Willow has hidden in her workroom.

Sharon: Thanks so much for inviting me to The Enchanted Emporium, Amber. All the times I’ve visited Whitby and I never knew it was here! How fabulous. I don’t suppose you have any raspberry lemonade? I’ve developed a bit of a passion for it lately. If not, coffee will be fine, thank you.

Photo of raspberry lemonade in a jug and glass. Garnished with fresh lemon slices

Amber: Sit down and don’t worry if you feel any cold patches on your back as we talk, it’s just Mrs Marley, our ghost. She adores romantic novels and will just be being nosy. It’s the ghost on the stairs you have to worry about.

Willow: Amber, stop scaring our guests.

Hi Sharon, glad you could make it and you have a drink. It’s lovely to catch up with you as we all adore your books. They are all set in Yorkshire, a place we all love. Was this a conscious decision?

Sharon: Hi, Willow. No, it wasn’t. In fact, initially, There Must Be an Angel, which was my first novel, was set in Glastonbury! But as the writing developed, I realised the voices I was hearing in my head all had Yorkshire accents, and since I’ve lived in East Yorkshire all my life (apart from those years we were in North Humberside which we don’t like to talk about as it’s still too traumatic) it made sense to set my books in a county I knew and loved. 

Willow: Both Amber and I love Castle Clair and would love to visit. How did you go about your world building to make it a vivid place for readers?

Sharon:  If I’m being really honest, I didn’t have to do a lot of world building to create Castle Clair. It was already there. It just needed a bit of tweaking! Castle Clair is based on the North Yorkshire market town of Knaresborough, quite near Harrogate, and it’s one of my favourite places. It really does have everything: ruined castle, cliffside shrine, legend of the prophetess, the beautiful river, the riverside walk, the market place, the museum in the castle grounds… There’s even an old chemist’s shop which was the inspiration for The Broom Closet. In real life it’s now a gift/sweet shop, and there really are steps in the shop leading up to The Lavender Tea Rooms, which I changed to The Rosemary Tea Rooms. All I had to do was create the legend of the St Clairs. Everything else was in place.   

Willow:  Tell us a bit about your new book.

Sharon: Will of the Witch is the fourth in The Witches of Castle Clair series. I only ever intended there to be three books, but they proved to be surprisingly popular, and I got lots of messages pleading for more. Since I loved writing them, I thought, why not? So in Will of the Witch you’ll meet three new St Clair sisters: Keely, Harley, and Romy. They never knew their Castle Clair cousins existed, and it’s a bit of a shock to them when they receive a mysterious invitation to Cornwall and discover Sirius, Star, Celeste, and Sky have all been invited too. There will be two more Castle Clair books after this one, so still lots to look forward to.  

Willow:  We can’t wait to read. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Sharon:  I’m a bit different to most of my writer friends, in that I started writing with indie publishing in mind. Finding a traditional publisher was never really on my radar. I was lucky enough to get scooped up by blogging group The Write Romantics and realised pretty quickly that most of them were looking for deals. I was too embarrassed to admit I wasn’t! Yes, I really was that person back then. So I subbed to about six publishers and got one request for the full manuscript, but by then my Write Romantic friend, Jo Bartlett, had decided to set up her own publishing company, Fabrian Books, and asked me to be her first signed author. I was delighted to accept, and Jo sent my book off to be edited and proofread, and I got to choose my cover, which was exciting. But Jo had a change of heart about running a publishing company, and after she and I, and another author, had a chat, we decided Fabrian Books should become an author collective instead. We would all indie publish our books under the Fabrian Books imprint. After a few years, I set up my own imprint, Green Ginger Publishing, and now I’m happily indie all the way. I’ve had two pocket novels, five large print books, and two audiobooks published by other publishers, but mostly it’s just me. What would I change? I’d stop dithering, thinking I really should be traditionally published to achieve anything, and realise that it’s perfectly possible to make a living and find fulfilment forging your own creative path.   

Willow: Wise words. What is your writing routine?

Sharon:  I’m kind of an all or nothing person. I’m either up early, writing furiously for hours, then sorting admin and marketing etc before finally finishing work at 7pm. Or I’m pretty much faffing around doing bits here and there and achieving nothing. I’ve stopped beating myself up about it. I know they say you should write every day, but the truth is I don’t. I still get the work done, so I’ve stopped worrying that I’m “doing it wrong”.

Willow: We have several customers who wish to write. Do you have any advice for them?

Sharon: My only real advice for writers is not to worry about most of the advice you’ll be given. There are so many “rules”, and you’ll get told frequently that “this is the way you should do it”. You have to find your own way. We’re all different. Eventually you’ll figure out the best way for you.

Rosa: What are you working on currently? Can you say, or is it top secret?

Sharon: Right now I’m working on a Christmas book. I know! We’ve had a record-breaking heatwave, and I’m sitting here with an electric fan on full blast, trying to muster some festive feeling. It’s actually the 26th book I’ll have written but will be the 25th book to be published. It’s the first in my new Tuppenny Bridge series, set in a Yorkshire Dales market town. It’s also a follow-on from my How the Other Half Lives series and will give a couple of characters some closure at last — something that so many readers have requested — although it can be read as a standalone.

Rosa: 25 books published, I need to catch up with some I’ve missed.

Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sell a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

A lit candle

Sharon: Ooh, that’s tricky. I think Luck. So much in life is down to luck, isn’t it? You can work your socks off, but if you don’t get lucky, it won’t make a jot of difference. Mind you, I’ll be honest and say I could do with all of those except the “help without asking” one. My kids have all left home, and my husband is an absolute star. I couldn’t do any of this without him.

Amber: One candle, when lit, invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day? Where would it take you?

Sharon: Oh, another tricky one! Maybe a holiday I had when I was little. We always had big family holidays in Primrose Valley near Filey on the North Yorkshire coast. There was me, my brother and sister, my mum and dad, grandparents, auntie, great aunts and uncles, half cousins… we were in caravans and bungalows, and we’d go to the beach together every day, visit the pub at night (peanuts and cola for us kids in a separate room, naturally) and walk along the sands to Filey for fish and chips. I remember going winkle picking on Filey Brigg with my nanna, great-aunt and sister. So many of those people are no longer with us, even my dad, so yes, I’d definitely like to invoke all those memories again.  

Image of a ghost reading a book

Amber: The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity. Have you had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

Sharon: When I was little, I had a friend called David. He was a little boy, about my age, and he wore a blue dressing gown, and every evening he’d sit on the bottom stair waiting for me, and I’d float down to meet him. I can’t remember anything else about him, but I saw him so many times and told my parents about him. My mum still remembers me talking about him. I haven’t had any other really spooky experiences, but I do have the weirdest dreams. They’re fascinating, like mini movies, and some of them may feature in a future book.

Willow: Amber knows all about lucid dreams. If we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Sharon: Wow, you really do ask tricky questions! You know, thinking about it, I’d like absolute confidence and self-belief for 24 hours, because I’d love to know how different that would make me, and if I could achieve more with that superpower. What must it feel like to be absolutely sure of yourself and your abilities? Yes, I’d love that potion.

Willow: What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

Sharon: There are sooo many books I could add. I absolutely adored Threadneedle by Cari Thomas, Deborah Harkness’s Discovery of Witches, Alys West’s Beltane and Storm Witch. I love The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper, and I also love The Whitby Witches series by Robin Jarvis. Can I really only add one book? You know what, I think I’ll go for The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis, because it’s the beginning of a cracking series. It’s supposed to be for children, but I read it in my early forties and loved it. And it’s set in Whitby, so very appropriate for your bookshelf.

Willow: Good choices. What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

Sharon: Hmm. So many to choose from. I’d go for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, so it’s clearly made a big impact on me. I love the character of Jane. She sets herself to high standards and lives by them, and even when society looks down on her, she holds her head high and knows her own worth. She’s wonderful.

Rosa: Jane Eyre is one of the best. Do you have a favourite place to write and read?

Sharon: I mostly write in my little writing office. It’s a small bedroom that’s completely mine, with a desk and chair, sideboard, and bookcase. There are magical canvas pictures up on one wall, along with Dr Who stuff, inspirational quotes, and gorgeous cards that my friends have sent me over the years. I find it really difficult to write anywhere else, although I can do other jobs like marketing and editing anywhere, funnily enough. I can’t seem to read for long in bed, as I always fall asleep, so I prefer to read on the sofa in the living room, with my dog snoozing on the rug in front of me.

Willow: That sounds perfect. Thanks so much for dropping by and good luck with your new book, Will of the Witch out 26th July.

Sharon: I’ve really enjoyed my trip to the Enchanted Emporium, and to glorious Whitby. I hope one day I’ll find my way here again. Thank you for inviting me, and kindest regards to Mrs Marley and the other ghosts for not spooking me!

Author Biography

Photo of author Sharon Booth. Smiling woman with long blond hair.
Author Sharon Booth

Sharon Booth writes about the lighter side of life, love, magic, and mystery. Her characters may be flawed, but whether they’re casting a spell, solving a mystery, or dealing with the ups and downs of family life or romance, they do it with kindness and humour.

Sharon is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and an Authorpreneur member of the Alliance of Independent Authors. She has been a KDP All-Star Author on several occasions.

She likes reading, researching her family tree, and watching Doctor Who, and Cary Grant movies. She loves horses and hares and enjoys nothing more than strolling around harbours and old buildings. Take her to a castle, an abbey, or a stately home and she’ll be happy for hours. She admits to being shamefully prone to crushes on fictional heroes.

Her stories of love, community, family, and friendship are set in pretty villages and quirky market towns, by the sea or in the countryside, and a happy ending is guaranteed.
If you love heroes and heroines who do the best they can no matter what sort of challenges they face, beautiful locations, and warm, feelgood stories, you’ll love Sharon’s books.

You’ll find all my links here:

https://linktr.ee/sharonboothwriter

WILL OF THE WITCH (THE WITCHES OF CASTLE CLAIR 4)

https://getbook.at/cc4

Will of the Witch