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

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21st Sept
Book Before U leap @bookleap
IG: ashleighheartsbooks
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22nd Sept
IG: stratospherekawaiigirl crooksbooks @beckyc_89
bethanys bookshelf @_thisisbethany

23rd Sept
IG: karenandherbooks cookiebiscuit @cookiebiscuit
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26th Sept
draliceviolett.com @alicetheunique book-for-thought @bookforthought
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27th Sept

IG: boozy_bookaholics IG: penfoldlayla IG: whatjaneyreads

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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: 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

Merry Meet Monday: Emma Bradley

Today we’re thrilled to have YA fantasy author, Emma Bradley visit. She has just released the third book in the Arcanium series, The Issue with Fairies which follows Demi, the only fairy in her family as she trains at the Arcanium, a prestigious of fairy organisations and battles those who are intent on overthrowing the Queen of Faerie. Amber’s review for the first book The Trouble with Fairies is here.

Merry Meet Monday: Emma Bradley

Willow: Hi, Emma. Come through to the back and Amber will pop the kettle on. What do you fancy to drink? We have tea of all descriptions, coffee or something stronger? Just be careful where you step. Inspired by your books, Amber tried a spell to communicate with fae and we now have an explosion of toadstools and fairy rings inside the shop.

Emma: This sounds so much fun! And yes, the toadstools will likely vanish during Faerie hour, but the fairy rings are immovable once they set up roots, so just leave little offerings of Jelly Babies and they’ll do you no harm! I will take a coke zero and also a job application form…

Amber: If Willow let me read the old grimoires she has under lock and key, I wouldn’t have to resort to experimenting and getting it wrong.

Willow: They’re locked away for a reason. I don’t want to imagine what chaos would happen if you read them. Emma doesn’t want to hear all this.

Emma: (I really do!)

Amber: Your books are popular with visitors to the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf. I fell in love with the Arcanium and the dilapidated amusement arcade façade. Can you tell us about how the series came about?

Emma: Absolutely! I tend to do my worldbuilding before all else until the world is almost a character in its own right, and I imagined the Atrium first, just the mayhem and chaos and noise. I think the golden lifts were there as well, but the ivy walls came later (and also have some small relevance to the series now). Then I wondered what it would be like to have a completely random entry-point from the human world, like Diagon Alley or the Empire State Building. I live by the coast and there’s an arcade I walk past which is always empty yet always open, so this made total sense – how do they earn a living if there’s nothing ‘other’ going on? So Arcanium existed first, but for a long while Demi was actually the side-kick. Luckily she shouted the loudest and managed to take the top billing, and the rest of the series and plot sort of knit itself from there!

Willow: Demi is a relatable and likable protagonist but Leo is a star. What made you choose a chameleon as a character rather than any other animals?

Emma: He’s such a huge favourite with readers! I remember reading about chameleons during the whole Demi becoming the main character stage and thinking how cool it would be for her to have a pet. He was originally a snake that could breathe fire, but then I was reading about chameleons and figured the changeling aspect was very fae. Leo especially has very interesting depths what with him being from Faerie, but he’s still growing and developing his awesomeness.

Amber: Trevor adores jelly babies. What’s your favourite writer’s snack?

Emma: Mine would definitely be Skittles, although I don’t have them too often these days. I have a serious coke zero addiction though, so nine times out of ten there’ll be a can somewhere nearby! Strangely, it seems to calm me down rather than hype me up on caffeine, so I find it helps with focus when writing.

Willow: What has your writing journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Emma: I started out writing pony stories at the tender age of 9. They were awful, but in my teens I moved onto loving fantasy and have been dreaming myself away ever since. The logical option was to start writing them all down, and all I wanted to be when I was younger was the next Sir Terry, Neil Gaiman or Anne Rice. I don’t think I’d change anything on my writing journey though, but I would definitely recommend anyone going into publishing a book (trad or indie) to focus on promotion and marketing very early on in the process. I think there are some traditionally published authors who still get a lot of help, advertising done and events set up for them, etc. but with self-publishing, it’s all down to you. I love the control element of that, but it can get a bit overwhelming when there’s nobody to fall back on if things get hectic or tough. This is why the writing community is an absolute treasure overall though, as everyone’s been so lovely!

Amber: Great role models. The Enchanted Emporium loves all of them. What is your writing routine? And do have a favourite writing or reading place?

Emma: My routine is basically write notes in any spare gaps, draft in evenings and downtime, and edit when you absolutely can’t avoid it any longer. I’ve now also mastered the art of convincing myself that I’m not actually editing, I’m just rereading because I love the characters so much and tweaking as I go. And in all great honesty my bed is my favourite place to write – curl up with my many pillows, my dog and a coke zero on ice and simply lose myself in whatever story I’m working on!

Willow: We have several customers who are writers. Do you have any advice for new writers?

Emma: A first draft doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t even have to really make 100% sense. It’s literally just you getting the shape of the story and the odd bits of dialogue out of your head and onto the page. Writing can be daunting when you think of it as this great project and start wondering ‘can I even do this’, but of course you can. Anyone can. That first draft won’t likely get you an agent or tons of readers, but you work on it, hone it, change it, dramatically pretend to bin it a million times, and slowly it takes shape. If you put the work in, and writing is a lot of work if you intend to write for publication, the story will come. I know there are also a lot of people who just want to write for fun, but I think this is how we should all start. Explore, experiment, play with it!

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?

Emma: I’m terrible with choices! I think I’m getting better with my ability to say no, and I sleep okay, so I suppose I’d choose the confidence one – to see what that would feel like. Most of my ‘writing self’ is online, which is much easier to handle and project confidently than in real life, so a confidence candle might just give me the boost to do more outside type things too!

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

Emma: I’m trying to think of something, maybe from childhood, but I recently got back from a Barcelona holiday and I would give anything to go back right now, but maybe with my dog. To nearest the estate agents! Or I would go back to one of the lazy summer days from my teens where all I did was read and write and still believed the magic places I was reading about could maybe be real somehow.

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

Emma: I think even the ghosts and ghouls would look at me and say ‘eh, too much flapping’ – I once went to the London Dungeon and was so paranoid about people jumping out that I screamed at a half-costumed woman coming out of a store room, startled the life out of her. We did do the whole ‘light as a feather, stiff as a board’ thing at a sleepover once though, and the girl did get fairly high in the air before we freaked out and dropped her. I also use tarot cards and pendulum for meditative thought fairly often – no guarantee there’s anyone listening or guiding, but you never know…

Willow: I’ve never attempted group levitation but people have varying results and you’ll have to browse our selection of tarot and oracle cards before you leave. They’re useful tools. 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?

Emma: The ultimate question, and I still don’t have an answer! I’ve done flying in Virtual Reality before and that was an amazing sensation, so I think I’d say flying. Ooh no, I would be able to know any language. I’ve been agonising about learning Finnish recently and also now want to learn Spanish, so being able to do that superpower-style would be amazing.

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

Emma: Oh, there are so many great fantasy books out – Mina and the Undead (Amy McCaw) was a brilliant YA read with a 90s vibe and New Orleans vampires. The Autumn Moonbeam (Emma Finlayson-Palmer) books promise to be great for younger readers and I’m sure Toby and the Silver Blood Witches (Sally Doherty) needs no introduction! Also, The Unadjusteds trilogy (Marisa Noelle) is dystopian but the genetic engineering fantasy element worked really well. Ooh and look out for Where Fate Whispers (E.G. Tudor) – technically adult but works well for the YA readers who like Throne of Swans and similar! Okay, I got carried away…

Willow:  Our reading list has just got bigger. What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

Emma: *Inserts shameless plug for Arcanium book #3 without giving any spoilers!* I think fantasy and romance often go hand in hand, something about the wide-ranging ability of being able to dream maybe. Keeping it clean, I think the relationship in Where Fate Whispers (E.G. Tudor) was lovely, and I’m really excited there’s going to be a second book. Same with Mina and the Undead (Amy McCaw). Sometimes I do go back to reread old favourites as well though, and the last one of those was the Wicked Lovely (Melissa Marr) series which has multiple romantic plotlines!

Willow: More books to try and self promo is more than allowed. What are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

Emma: The plot is top secret, but I can say that I’m focusing on the final two books (4 and 5) of the Arcanium series, plus some adult fantasy. I’ve also been writing a portal fantasy series of 4 trilogies which has wavered between adult and YA for years, so I’m hoping to focus on those and get those published next. But Arcanium first, although once people read book 4 they might not be talking to me… (it resolves in book 5 I promise!)

Amber: They sound great and you’ll have to pop by again with updates.

Willow: You must. Thanks for the chat and here’s some complimentary tea that tastes just like cola and an application form. I’ll keep you on file in case of emergencies or Amber breaks more rules than usual.

Author Biography

Photo of Emma Bradley white woman smiling with hair scraped back into a ponytail. Wearing a black hoodie.
Emma Bradley

Emma lives on the UK south coast with her husband, her plant collection and a very lazy black Labrador who occasionally condescends to take her out for a walk. Aside from creative writing studies, an addiction to cereal and spending far too much time procrastinating on social media, Emma is still waiting for the arrival of her unicorn. Or a tank, she’s not fussy.

Social Media

Website: www.emmaebradley.com

Twitter, TikTok: @emmaebradley

Instagram: @emmabradleybooks 

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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Jojo's Over the rainbow blog @Joannalouisepar
Bookmarks and stages @lou_bookmarks
All is full of books @allfullofbooks
From First Page to Last @janetemson
Jane Hunt Writer @Jolliff03
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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

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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Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

The first ever review from the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf is for the gorgeous The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield, a magical novel based in the time running up to the French Revolution. It doesn’t linger long on the bookshelf before it is borrowed by a passing witch.

Scroll down to discover why.

Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Book Cover for The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Title: The Embroidered Book

Author: Kate Heartfield

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy, historical

Release Date: 17th February 2022

Blurb

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’

 1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless.

When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences. In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives. But every spell requires a sacrifice.

 And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

Thoughts from the Emporium

Harper Voyager excel at designing book covers that catch your eye and lure you in as if they are enchanted like many of the articles in this book. The cover made Willow desire this book even before she read the blurb.

After studying history at uni, she adores novels that blend magic with historical fact devoured this mighty tome in days. When Amber read it, she was concerned she’d be confused as her knowledge of Marie Antoinette was minimal but these were unfounded. As promised by Willow, she was immersed into lives of Charlotte and Antoinette after they discover an embroidered book of magic. The spectacular blend of magic, history and sense of place kept both witches enthralled.

It is an epic read of 656 pages where the two sisters have to journey through the complex politics of these turbulent times while balancing family and societal expectations when their central reason is to do anything is to do the best for their respective countries. It’s told with empathy and made me consider questions about power, class and influence.

The palaces and characters were brought to life, making reading it a highly visual experience. Both witches and many customers who’ve also read it agree, it would make a wonderful tv series under the right director.

Why is it on the Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf?

The Embroidered Book is as beautiful inside as out and though it’s a work of fiction it gives many of the store’s readers a platform to build their knowledge of this era on while they are immersed in magic and spells. Full of imagination, the spectacular magical world building overlays historical fact making it a must for fans of both history and fantasy.

The bookshelf has witnessed the downfall of many who have taken a book of spells to the detriment of themselves and those around them. It hopes those witches who read The Embroidered Book will heed its warning.

Author Biography

Photo of Kate Heartfield
Kate Heartfield

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022. Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.