I listened to this book by Sangu Mandanna as an audiobook, read by Samara MacLaren. It was a sweet, easy read that made my commute fly by. In The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, it is set out early on (so not a spoiler) that all witches are orphans due to a bungled curse centuries ago. Whenever a witch is born, she is almost immediately orphaned leaving her to be raised by others. Our protagonist is Mika, born and orphaned in India then brought to England by Primrose, an older witch with a lot of rules about how witches have to behave to keep safe. The main one is that witches can’t congregate, as too much magic in one place would make them visible to non-magic people with dangerous consequences. As a result of these rules, Mika moves from place to place, never really making connections and feeling very lost and lonely. That changes when she is approached to help with three little witches whose guardian witch is absentee.
There were so many clever things I enjoyed about this book. For instance, Mika refers to her car as The Broomstick because what else would a witch call her car? Or the way magic is described, as something that loves witches and appears like golden dust around them, or one of the little witches picking up and repeating Mika’s muttered “Dammit Primrose!”. The story seemed effortlessly inclusive as well, reflecting an England of today with witches by default being of different ethnicities/races/sexuality. Overall, this was a very sweet, gentle book which didn’t feel the need to torment the reader by leaving characters in trauma at the end – it’s okay for characters to get a happy ending! As it came out in 2022, it’s too early to know, but I really hope the author writes a follow up as I’d like to see what happens next, and to see if Mika and the girls can break the curse. Lastly, I enjoyed this as an audiobook. Sometimes I start to listen to an audiobook and find the reader’s intonation annoying or wrong for the book, but Samara MacLaren worked perfectly for this one.