A couple of years ago I read a charming witchy Yuletide short story in the first Love All Year anthology. The author was Celestine Martin and I kept an eye for her name. When Witchful Thinking popped up on NetGalley, I snatched it up.
This is Martin’s debut novel and it is charming. It’s imperfect, it dragged a bit in the middle, and it took Alex an annoyingly long time to get himself together. That said, it was a lovely read with pluses that outweigh it’s minuses.
Lucy Caraway is openly a witch. She lives in Freya Grove, New Jersey a magical town with all kinds of magical folk. She grew up in the Grove and after a few adventures, is now a teacher at the high school from which she graduated. She lives in her late grandmother’s house and is a coven with her sisters and her cousin. She is bored and frustrated with her own inability to act with courage. Her sisters are also feeling stuck, and her cousin, Ursula, is stressed about her upcoming wedding. They decide to do a wish spell to help them achieve their dreams. Lucy has immediate spell remorse as she runs into her high school best friend/crush Alex, accidentally announces she is 1)entering a croquembouche into a competitive bake sale (she’s never made pate choux), 3) competing in a karaoke contest, 4) and running a 10k (she’s an occasional jogger). Her life is so much more exciting and she feels out of control.
Meanwhile, Alex, is a merman with legs on land and is only required to shift at the full moon. He didn’t want to get stuck in Freya Grove so he turned his back on Lucy and split town after graduation. He is convinced he is incapable of settling down and that he could only hurt Lucy if he tried. For his 0th birthday, his parents buy him a house in Freya Grove that is 1) across the street from Lucy’s grandmother’s house, 2) Lucy’s dream house, and 3) cursed.
One thing I loved is that for all the magic, everyone’s problems were self-manufactured and the barriers to happiness were self imposed. Lucy and Ale couldn’t get their Happily Ever After until they fixed their own lives and stopped playing safe. The spells, tea leaves, fortunes and visions could only point them in a direction, but they had to make choices and take risks to get the lives they wanted. And Alex’s cursed house is uncursed only with care and attention.
I hope that Witchful Thinking is in fact the start of a series, because I want to know how the Wish went for each of the Caraways, even Ursula. Especially Ursula.
CW: grief, death of a grandparent in past, friend break-up.
I received this as an advance reader copy from Forever and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.