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Book Recommendation: Payback's a Witch

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

Payback is also entertaining, and the writing is great.

I noticed Payback's a Witch when researching genre covers for my own books, The Wheel of the Year series. Payback's cover popped in a long list of Witches & Wizards Romance titles. (Don't judge me for judging a book by its cover!)

Someone summed Payback up as Practical Magic meets The L Word. It had me at hello!

You could only pre-order at the time, something I rarely do unless I already know the author. (I didn't.) But I took a chance and pre-ordered. An excellent decision. Not only did I love this book, I ordered the second book in the series, From Bad to Cursed.

Some writers — looking at you, Dan Brown — drag you through the book even though the writing is rather horrible. Seriously, my virtual red pen ran out of ink while reading The Da Vinci Code. Yet, I felt compelled to keep reading to find out what happened.

Payback's a Witch is not that kind of read. I figured out early on where the plot was going, but knowing didn't matter. The writing is lovely. Dare I say bewitching? And even guessing the story arc, it was engaging. But don't take my word for it.

The New York Times called it a sexy Sapphic modern Gothic.

Jacqueline Carey, one of my favorite authors, said "No tricks, all treat! Lana Harper’s debut Payback's a Witch is a compulsively fun read.”

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. Thistle Grove is a small town in downstate Illinois where four witch families secretly run things. 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.

Emmy’s self-deprecating humor and her unique take on imposter syndrome make her relatable. She teams up with two other witches spurned by Gareth for revenge. At this point in most books, the scary music starts, but Payback keeps it light and amusing, because even witches have a sense of humor. Charming magical happenings, something akin to a Tri-Wizard tournament arbitrated by Emmy, and her new love interest with one of the spurned witches make this a lighthearted, somewhat spicy, romantic, and enjoyable read.

Finally, I can be a little persnickety about how magic, witchcraft, and the occult are depicted. I'm happy to report, no missteps took me out of the story and scream "Not bloody likely."

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