Reviewed by: Amanda
Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
When you start giggling a few pages in to a book, you know you’re in for a good time. Nola Leary’s left behind her tiny village of Kilcairy, Ireland, at the behest of her grandmother. Her task is to locate four magical artifacts before the Summer Solstice, or the magical binding on a rival family (one who has, in the past, used their gifts to inflict harm on others) will be lifted. If those artifacts fall into their hands, there’s no doubt the tables would be turned and Nola’s family would lose their powers.
What she doesn’t count on is discovering the family she has in the States is full of vampires. And she really doesn’t count on having a half-naked, supremely hot neighbor.
Nola’s a witch who had her gift bound, because she’s not able to control it. What she’s able to do well is use her magic to heal, which makes her choice of employment ideal: she’s a nurse. But whenever she tries to do something else, like heat water with her hands, the results are a bit…unpredictable. She spent the first half of her life unaware of what she was, and when it came time to instruct her in the finer points of practicing magic, the lessons didn’t always end well. Her family is constantly on her case about being “half a witch,” which annoys her and shames her by turns. But her crazy extended family makes it easier for her to adapt to her adopted vampire family, and Nola’s interactions with Jane and Andrea (her vampire cousins) read like a trio of women who’d known each for years, and knew each other well.
And Jed…mmm, Jed. Yummy, yummy Jed. Nola holds out on her attraction to her delicious neighbor, which means the relationship takes a while to develop. The two are undeniably attracted to each other, but Nola has a boyfriend back home. Nola and Jed’s banter is fun, flirty, and quite often sarcastic, and it doesn’t change once the two finally get together. But even as the pair continue to get to know each other, each is still holding secrets, and the secret Jed’s hiding from Nola (or one of them) is one I didn’t see coming. Once it’s revealed, it takes her a while to forgive and trust him again.
Because this is a Molly Harper book, it’s funny. Sometimes it’s snort-laugh inducing, other times it’s just a little giggle. But she blends in the lighthearted moments with the more somber, serious ones with ease and skill, making A Witch’s Handbook quite the enjoyable read. Pop culture references, snarky conversations, and a quick and intelligent wit make the pages fly by. There’s an incident with a séance and a twenty-sided die, leaving Nola believing her grandmother was a closeted Lady Gaga fan. Then a chance meeting with a possum (in her kitchen cupboard) leads to one of the funniest “meet cute” scenes I’ve read in a long, long time.
The happy-ever-after plays more like a happily-for-now, and I have no problems with this. It fits with both Nola and Jed’s characters, and I’ve no doubt they’ll figure out some way to make this work. Hopefully, Nola will figure out how to keep her light bulbs intact at some point, too.
Sexual content: Sex