The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna is an adult cozy fantasy romance. It was nominated for a Goodreads choice award for 2022 and people have been comparing it to The House in the Cerulean Sea so I had to read it. I really enjoyed it and it was a great book to kick off 2023.
As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.
But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.
As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….
I really enjoyed this one, it was very close to perfect. The beginning started off so much like The House in the Cerulean Sea that it was a little off putting but it quickly found its own voice and story. It was a very cozy and easy read.
I absolutely loved the characters. They are quirky and loveable, the perfect found family. Ian provide some comic relief but was nicely balanced by Ken and Lucie. The girls were very cute and different enough to each have their own personality. I do wish we’d been given a little more on the development of the relationship between the girls and Mika. Mika and Jamie were a very cute grumpy/sunshine pair. The plot kept me guessing and although I got close to guessing a couple of the twists, I didn’t get any of them totally correct.
My only complaint and the reason this one didn’t get 5 stars was the amount of cursing and the gratuitous smut. I normally have no issue with these things but they had no place in this cute and wholesome story. I was dealing with the cursing and the first somewhat bizarrely written romantic scene but the one sex scene took me totally out of the story, it didn’t fit the vibe at all and was completely unnecessary. It really had that feeling of being stuck in as an afterthought because someone thought it was a good idea. Nope, I just didn’t like it and I had a hard time getting back into the quirky sweetness for the end of the book.
Overall, this was a really good read and definitely a cute and cozy story that has something larger to say.