Payback’s A Witch | ARC Review

Thank you to Berkely Publishing Group and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.

 Book: Payback’s A Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove 1) by Lana Harper
Release Date: October 5th 2021
Tags: Adult | Fantasy | Paranormal | Witches | Witch Families | Witch Battles | Ghosts | Necromancy | Sapphic Romance


Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.

But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.

On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?

But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov

Payback’s a Witch is the book to read this Halloween that will give you a lovely atmospheric read with ghosts, necromancy and a spellcasting tournament but will also give you that sapphic romance you have been craving.

Right from the start I was hooked by our introduction to your main character Emmy. Emmy returns back to Thistle Grove after a long absence after a romance gone bad. As she returns she realizes that she wasn’t the only one he’s played and with the upcoming spellcasting tournament that is held between the witch families of town every 50 years or so, it shows the best opportunity to get back at him.

Now that in itself isn’t what grabbed me of course. It sounds like a very basic something but that is not this book. Emmy ran from a bad romance as she likes to say but it was much more than that. It was what gave her the final push with her low insecurities with her powers. And as she returns she has to challenge that side of her choice. And find out what she really finds worthwhile.

There is also a lot of history in Thistle Grove where we get hints of through the elders of each family as the tournament continues. Each family has their own strength and their own place in town. But with one family always winning the tournament there is a focus of power on one end. It doesn’t feel right to the next generation.

Emmy, despite why she ran, is a very kick ass lady. She cares about her friends but has been putting up a wall. Enter Talia who starts poking her walls. Talia is a mysterious lady to many as is her whole family, but she is genuinely a gentle soul. When they both run into each other again sparks start flying. Their romance felt so very real and the chemistry was flying of the page from the very start. The bond between them was something that build up throughout the book and there was no talking of loving each other forever but giving each other a chance at a serious relationship. I liked that a lot.

Next to these two ladies I just really appreciated all the side characters. Rowan and Lindin, Talia’s and Emmy’s family. And just the whole mood of this book.

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