This book is The House in the Cerulean Sea except with a het witch instead of a gay orphanage accountant(?). The beats are very similar, from what I remember, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
The adorquirkably named Mika Moon is our protagonist, a half(?)-Indian witch who lost her parents at an early age and was raised by another witch, who serves as the de facto matriarch to a coven of British witches (and, as such, outsourced her upbringing to a series of nannies who were summarily mind wiped to prevent them from asking too many questions when ~*weird stuff*~ happened). In this universe, witches were doomed centuries ago to always be alone as a curse dooms their loved ones to death if they ever congregate. So Mika is lonely times two, and relies on the sporadic and randomized gathers of the [Very] Secret Society of Witches for most of her socialization.
But! In one of the only instances when a side hustle as a vlogger has not turned me off early in a romcom, Mika has one outlet for her social introvert-type personality–on YouTube, she runs a popular channel where she “pretends” to be a witch and does spooky brew-type things for a cynical and therefore utterly safe audience…or so she thinks, until she is contacted by an eccentric actor in his 80s who is the guardian to three other, actual teenage-to-elementary-age witches who need serious guidance so that they don’t set the house on fire. Again.
The magic in this world is very, VERY handwavy. Mika forages for quirky ingredients (falling stars, moonlight) to make potions, develops spells based on rhyme and/or reason and something neither, hovering is both a party trick and a worry (what if you fly away like a balloon), and her car (the aptly named Broomstick) can traverse distances as quickly as she wants it to as long as you don’t think about it too deeply. But for all that I will read the minutiae of world building, I have no qualms at all with the magic system here. In that sense it reminded me of The Ex Hex, which is similar.
There’s just enough plot to give the book structure–an Evil Lawyer will come and shut down the entire enterprise if Mika can’t help the motley found family of Nowhere House. The three children are delightful, which is not something I usually say of precocious MacGuffins in otherwise charmless books. The romance is also not that central, in that most of the book is about whether/how Mika will integrate into the same family (spoiler alert she absolutely will). Plenty of casual representation for my little rep loving heart as well.
Part of me wishes I’d saved this book to read around Halloween, but I couldn’t resist and find myself not that mad!