An extremely cosy novel of found family, romance and magic, that may just be slightly too nice for its own good.
Cosy fantasy seems to be more and more prevalent recently - and with good reason. When times are stressful, turning to a book where you know things are all going to turn out fine is a very reasonable reaction to have. Romance is a perfect vector for that kind of comfort, and when paired with a nice fantasy, all the better. But there's a risk with that kind of narrative too, where the inevitability of the happy ending becomes so overpowering that it saps even the slightest tension and suspense from the story, leaving you bored. There needs to be at least mild peril, some stakes, for the happy ending to really have the full effect.
The problem is, I'm not sure if The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches quite had enough stakes to pull off what it was trying to do.
Which is a shame, because a lot of the trappings around the core story were done really well.
We follow Mika Moon, a 30 year old British witch living a somewhat lonely life. Witches in her world are necessarily solitary creatures, all orphaned, and never joining together in communities, as meeting up in groups brings with it a great deal of danger. She sees her fellow British witches irregularly, in remote locations, for a brief and unsatisfactory secret meetings organised by their very strict and risk-averse leader. She has to move around a lot so no one realises what she is. But she has her one outlet - making TikTok videos in which she "pretends" to be a witch, as the closest way she feels she can get to being her true self in public, and even this is a cause of censure from her elders.
But one day, someone finds her on TikTok, seemingly having realised what she really is, and comes to her with an intriguing offer to come to a remote house in Norfolk to teach three very young witches how to use their powers. Drawn in by the semblance of a true family she finds there, as well as the determination to protect the girls, she's unable to resist, even once she finds out there's a very imminent need for her tuition.