Desert Isle Keeper
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches do not have a regular meeting place, nor a regular meeting time. They come together in summery gardens, in cozy tea rooms, and in far-flung lands. This is how young Mika Moon was raised.
She’s the junior to the group’s flock of senior witches – Agatha, Hilda, Sophie, Primrose Beatrice Everly (Mika’s adoptive mother) and Belinda. Mika herself was raised by Primrose in the wake of her parents’ deaths and has been kept isolated and on the move without regular figures in her life – aside from the society – in the hope of keeping her magical powers hidden. This is how all witches live in this world, but Mika feels alone and isolated. Primrose has rarely been in her life and Mika was raised by a succession of nannies and tutors who were,,, moved on once they learned too much about her powers. Now grown, Mika is simply trying to learn how to make real connections with others, mortals included. That’s when she receives a summons to tutor a passel of young witches after one of the videos she’s made to entertain herself on YouTube grabs the attention of a potential employer.
It’s immediately apparent that all three young witches have been adopted from other places and are not biological sisters, but rebellious eight-year-old Terracotta, spirited ten-year-old Rosetta and sweet seven-year-old Altamira are close and all possessed of incredible powers – dangerous powers. Mika finds herself working alongside the household staff – the kind married couple Ken and Ian Kubo-Hawthorn (a former actor), who tend the estate’s garden and run the house, respectively; sweet elderly cook Lucie, and handsome Scottish intellectual James – Jamie – Kelly, who takes care of the library. Ian wants Mika to teach the girls how to control their powers for an upcoming meeting their mother has set with a powerful colleague, Edward Foxhaven. If word gets out – either to Foxhaven or to Primrose – that the house is filled with witches, the children will end up being forcibly separated. Mika instantly realizes she’s found her place in the world, but can she convince the rest of them – especially Jamie – on whom she is rapidly developing a crush – of that?
This is such a fun, adventurous book about finding your way in the world, found families, and living the life you truly want to live. The worldbuilding is delightful and the author also manages to address subjects such as racism, transracial adoption, and child abuse. It’s fluffy and warm without being saccharine, sexy without being gauche, and funny without being ridiculous.
Mika is a completely winning heroine with a wonderful sense of self and a determination to make her way in the world as an independent person. Her rapport with everyone, including Jamie, is perfectly handled, but I had a fondness for her kinship with Terracotta.
The romance between Mika and Jamie is very good, but may not appeal if you don’t like ‘I hate you but now I love you’ entanglements. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining ride to watch the two of them fall in love.
I especially enjoyed the worldbuilding and how Mandanna manages to create a completely realistic world of witches who are feared and loathed for who they are. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a perfect gem.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier