Although I've heard a lot about The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, I hesitated to pick it up. I disliked the author's The Celestial Trilogy series although it was highly praised by other readers. This book could have easily been a similar disappointment for me.

However, this is a completely different vibe compared to Celestial Trilogy and I had a good feeling about it. So I gave it a shot.

about The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

the very secret society of irregular witches book cover

A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family--and a new love--changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don't mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she's used to being alone and she follows the rules...with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and...Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he's concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn't the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn't know she was looking for....

Content warnings: death of parents, childhood neglect.

my review

Joining books like Legends and Lattes, this is a cosy fantasy book with low stakes. Essentially, the book has non-human characters and some magic but there's no war to fight or big mission to accomplish. Low-stakes fantasies follow non-human characters living regular lives.

In The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, we follow Mika as she takes on a teaching job for three young witches. After growing up practically alone, she has moved around a lot and hasn't kept a job for longer than a few months. Her passion project is her social media accounts where she "pretends" to be a witch. But one viewer realizes she's an actual witch and recruits her to teach young witches he raises.

Mika moves into their home and, as she teaches the girls, she slowly becomes a member of their found family.

It’s not always enough to go looking for the place we belong. Sometimes we need to make that place.

Firstly, the setting is awesome. We often get romance books where the main characters move from cities to suburban areas or places with more nature. This is a similar thing.

Mika moves from a city apartment to their home in the middle of the woods. One can easily miss the gates even if they're following the map because plants and vines almost hide it. She feels magic as soon as she enters the gates. There's a cottage and the beautiful main house that has several rooms, a library with old and rare texts, and a big attic that will be her space.

The nature surrounding the house is perfect for foraging ingredients for magical potions. Mika sets up a pond with fish. An hour or so away, there's a small town that they can nip into for any shopping shopping.

It's a lovely magical cocoon that the characters seldom leave. They spend their days there doing whatever they like.

By reading about a place away from everything, it's like I went somewhere by leaving behind my regular busy life. Reading the book almost immediately felt like a cosy vacation because of the journey to the magical cocoon. It was like my mind was also leaving behind my city apartment and going there with Mika.

If no one remembered her, and she didn't matter to anyone, did she really exist?

Right from the first page, I loved Mika. She is bright, passionate, empathetic, and funny. The first thing we get to know about her is that she comes up with silly names to annoy the very proper head witch Primrose who also raised her.

She has a great sense of humour that makes the story entertaining. Even reading about her doing mundane things was fun because of her energy. The story was never dull even if they were just having tea.

Although Primrose brought her to the UK after Mika's parents passed away and took care of her, she didn't fully raise her. Mika grew up with nannies and then was always alone as an adult. She held jobs only for a few months and moved before she developed lasting attachments with anyone.

Mika doesn't give off that vibe but she is lonely. She's lonely mostly due to her upbringing and Primrose's biggest mantra that witches survive if they're alone. When she arrives at the home and finds three young witches being raised by loving adults who are like family, she is thrown off-kilter.

Watching her being surprised when she's invited into their circle and slowly becoming a part of their family was so nice. She has to unlearn a lot to accept that kind of love and give it in return. She easily fits into their life and grows to love them without realizing it.

With them, she confronts her trauma and heals from it. She grows into a confident woman who is unafraid to follow her dream. It was healing to watch her heal and bloom in the story.

She was done being afraid. She was done letting people like this make her feel small and strange and wrong.

Our other main character is James. He is a cinnamon roll under his grumpiness. He doesn't trust strangers easily and is over-protective of the people he loves. He became a part of the family as a 17-year-old broken boy and would give his life for any of them.

It was fun to read Mika and James argue. They're polar opposites and don't get along initially. Mika has fun teasing him and making jokes. Eventually, they grow on each other and finally start having conversations and getting to know one another.

Their romance is slow and sweet. It starts with arguments that become banter that turns into banter masking affection and then love. They bond over their affection for the girls and sleepless nights making magic potions with liquor. They take care of each other in small and big ways. It was inevitable that they would become a perfect couple.

It’s a leap of faith to love people and let yourself be loved. It’s closing your eyes, stepping off a ledge into nothing, and trusting that you’ll fly rather than fall.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches isn't a romance though! It's a book about finding your family and fighting to protect them—especially if the family is quirky and loving. They show the importance of love and human connection.

We have Ian, a former actor and a force in his seventies. He is loud and exuberant, tries to slyly push James and Mika together, and loves knitting colourful clothes and cooking a feast for his family. He is married to Ken, a Japanese man of the same age who is the calm to his storm. Ian is fun and charming while Ken is sweet and lovely. I loved all the scenes with Ian because of his energy and dialogue.

Then, there's Lucie, the housekeeper in her fifties who likes reading steamy romance books and often argues with Ian.

And finally, we have the three willful young witches Rosetta, Terracotta, and Altamira. Rosetta is the eldest and most level-headed. Terracotta doesn't like a new person coming in and tells Mika that she's plotting to murder her almost immediately. Altamira, the youngest, is full of life and accidentally sets things on fire.

The mysterious lady of the house Lillian adopted them after they were orphaned but doesn't actually raise them, preferring to jet around the world for work. Hence, Ian hires Mika to teach them magic as they don't have a witch to teach them magic.

They make a rough patchwork of a family but fit together so well. Everyone comes with different pasts and traumas and they heal and grow together.

But what was that worth without human connection? How was it possible to live, truly live, without the companionship of other people, without a family formed in any of the thousand ways families could be formed?

Let's not forget that this is a witchy book. We see them bantering and bonding and having tea while performing magic regularly.

Mika teaches magic to the girls daily for a few hours which may or may not become messy. Mika uses magic to quickly travel and clean up the hair her dog sheds all over the house. The family celebrates the Winter Solstice like it's Christmas. Mika spends nights brewing different potions and shares her magicked teas with the family.

As we mostly read from Mika's perspective, we are also made aware of how magic works and how it is ever-present around the witches. We learn how it looks like witches and how they use it. We see the girls trying hard to control it to flip stones but also accidentally floating above ground without realizing it.

overall

This witchy cozy fantasy book makes for an excellent escapist read. It is entertaining and comforting. It is easy to read and sucks you into its world. Its characters are so lovable that you will want to be a part of their family.

I highly recommend it! Especially if you're looking for a book that will make you forget about your life for a while.

photo of Sumedha

Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

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1 comment

  • Dini @ dinipandareads says:

    Great review! So glad to hear you enjoyed this one and reading your thoughts on it makes me want to re-read it now 😂 I can't wait for Mandanna's next cosy fantasy romance to come out!

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