Go Hex Yourself
Author Jessica Clare (of the Wyoming Cowboys series, among others) switches subgenres from American West to Witches & Warlocks with Go Hex Yourself, an imperfect but ultimately very enjoyable paranormal romance.
Reggie Johnson’s relentless mania for precise order and constant enabling of her pathologically lying grifter parents have left her perpetually unemployed and in debt. Her love for the card game Spellcraft: The Magicking seems to offer a fresh start when she sees an ad for Spellcraft Expertise Wanted. She shows up for the interview only to discover it’s with Drusilla (Dru) Magnus, an old lady who claims to have hundreds of years of experience in witchcraft and who requires a “familiar”, which is essentially a magic power “battery.” Reggie is convinced it’s all absurd, but she’ll play along – skeptically – for the paycheck, which is how she comes to move in with Dru, Maurice the Cat, and the house’s occasional resident (and Dru’s nephew) Caliban ‘Ben’ Magnus. Ben has a Reputation as a Big Bad Warlock and is unamused by his aunt’s hiring of a woman he sees as a disaster in the making, even if he does also want to see her naked.
When reviewing a book I recommend, I always feel vaguely as if I’m repeating myself, because most of the books I grade highly share many common threads. These usually include: clever but unfussy writing, main characters whose love for each other is built on kindness and compassion, and great chemistry. Suffice to say that Go Hex Yourself has all of those things. There’s real humor in it, especially when Dru mixes up her modern expressions. At one point she suggests that Reggie and Ben “could court. Or fig.”
“Fig?” . . .
“That’s what they call it now, right?” She looks confused for a moment. “Some sweet, dried thing.”
There’s real ingenuity in how the witchcraft/magic of the book’s world functions – there’s no conjuring up desserts and quick clothing changes with the wave of a wand here. It’s a place where Ben’s main form of employment is “corporate espionage”, including “hex[ing] a particular corporation’s new campaign” and “obfuscation charms on corporate tax accounts”.
A few things keep Go Hex Yourself at a B+. First, it takes a little too long for Reggie and Ben to spend real, quality time together – and no, I don’t mean in bed. Until the one-third mark of the book, most of their interactions are brief and in the company of others. Plus, there’s the somewhat inexplicable narrative choice to have Ben leave town right after meeting Reggie for the first time, so they’re literally kept apart from the beginning. Second, the potential plotline of Reggie’s magical heritage is left lying on the table like unclaimed free money. And lastly, the ending pulls a bait-and-switch on the characters – and the reader – that takes the sting out of all the third-act drama, leaving behind a slight sense of ‘Really? Come on’.
Those few elements aside, Go Hex Yourself is a pleasantly conjured witch’s brew of a read.