My Rating: 4.5 stars: Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A)
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Nola, a witch with mediocre talent but potential to be more, moves to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky from Ireland after one too many "nudges" from her deceased Nana. She leaves behind her doting boyfriend and the safety of her family with the purpose of recovering four magic items that her Nana entrusted to her lover from years ago--Nola’s unknown grandfather.
Immediately Nola earns the trust of and makes friends with the locals, who are critical in Nola’s quest to find the lost items. In addition, Nola befriends her hunky neighbor, Jed, who lives in the other half of Nola's rental home. Jed’s sexy body and easy-going nature has Nola second guessing the “normal” boyfriend she left back home.
I am a first time reader of Ms. Harper’s books, and I can say with certainty that A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses will not be my last! I completely enjoyed Ms. Harper’s writing style, humor, and world-building. Although this book falls within a series, which is a spin-off of another one of her series, I never felt lost or that I was missing critical back story.
A Witch’s Handbook is told from the first person POV of Nola, which gives it a “chic lit” feel, but it’s not dumbed down or overly silly. After a rough childhood (horrible mother!) and armed with the desire to “be normal,” Nola tries to hide who and what she truly is. However, she is intuitive and smart, and coming to The Hollow allows her to discover this for herself. I enjoyed watching Nola laugh with her new friends/family and learn to love herself and all the quirks that come with being a McGavock witch. Her sense of humor is outstanding (for example calling an opossum trapped in her cupboard a “rodent of unusual size”), and her nature is light and fun.
At the center of the tale is the need to recover the four everyday “magical” items. We learn that these items hold the key to keeping the Kerrigans, who are the "black magic" members of the McGavock family, from gaining power over Nola’s family and wrecking havoc in the world. The story includes a bit of mystery as strange things start happening around Nola, to include a break in of the bookstore formerly owned by her deceased grandfather. Adding to the tension is a looming deadline before which Nola has to locate the items. Altogether, it created a bit of excitement, suspense and tension which had me constantly trying to figure out the who, what and why’s.
Probably the best thing about the book is the troupe of locals who become Nola’s adopted family. The banter with local vamps Andrea and Jane lend humor to the tale, but also allow us to see different sides of Nola. Andrea’s husband, Dick, is another source of comic relief, stemming from his silly actions when dealing with Nola. Then there is Jed, who has a “devil may care” attitude one moment, while in the next, he leaves flowers for Nola at her windowsill. Watching their romance develop was sweet and sexy. I adored Nola and Jed, and I loved how she helps him with a “family problem” that is pretty humorous. In the end, the story chronicles how everyone comes together in friendship and love, which makes this book such a feel good read.
The entire story was well-scripted, thoughtful and humorous. From the process of searching for the artifacts to the budding friendships with Jane, Andrea, and the rest. Her flirtatious nature with Jed, and her humanity work at the local clinic. I also enjoyed the slow uncovering of Nola’s childhood memories, to include how horrible her mom was and conversely, how loving her father was.
A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses is a wonderful story! Although overall the book is light and fluffy, the humor and plot are sharp, making this a worthy read. I enjoyed almost every moment of the story, smiling on the inside and out. It wasn't deep or emotionally gripping, but fun and warm. It is entertainment for the sake of joy. There was an interesting and exciting plot behind the fun, and the humor made me chuckle several times over, possibly recognizing it as something I would do or say. Everything was well-written, with no loose ends or side stories left dangling. I most certainly plan to visit Half-Moon Hollow again.