Book Review

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches and The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy {Combi Mini Book Review}

Reviews The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches and The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy
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Hi everyone! Today I’m combining two reviews for cozy fantasy romances I read during my holidays last month and both highly enjoyed. Is cozy fantasy romance already an existing genre? Because it should be, I adore it! So let’s get into them!

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
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Title: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Publisher:
Berkley Books
Release Date: August 23rd, 2022
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Genre: Adult – Romance – Fantasy

My rating in stars: 

Rating: 4 out of 5.


My rating in words: 
I really liked it

Check it out on Goodreads

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family–and a new love–changes the course of her life.

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….

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MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):

“Mika looked away. “I’m afraid I’ll never leave a mark on anybody.”
It was quiet for so long that Mika wished she could take the too-reckless, too-honest words back, but then she heard him, rough and uneven and so quiet she almost missed it:
“It’s a little late for that, I’m afraid.”

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches was an amazingly wholesome read about a 31-year old witch named Mika Moon. Like most witches, Mika is an orphan who has grown up very isolated, because witches can’t spend a lot of time together as it could draw attention to their magic. She’s lonely but mostly follows the rules, until one day she gets a request. Someone noticed she’s a real witch and has offered her a job teaching 3 young, orphaned witches how to control their magic. Intrigued, Mika takes the job and meets the inhabitants of Nowhere House: a retired stage-actor and his gardener-husband, a house-keeper, a grumpy librarian and of course the three young witches. As Mika moves in to Nowhere House, she find the family she’s always longed for and finally feels like she belongs somewhere. But there are not only risks with 4 witches living together, there are also secrets in Nowhere House…

This lovely story reminded me a lot of TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea (one of my favorites) in that it evoked the same cozy feeling of feel-good wholesomeness, like a warm hug or a shot of serotonin. In short, here’s everything I loved about the story:

  • The found family vibes (Ugh, all the feels!)
  • The distinct, lively personalities of all the characters (My faves were the murderous child and the uber-dramatic retired stage-actor and that definitely says a lot about me)
  • The slow-burn, grumpy/sunshine romance between Mika and Jamie the librarian (adorable)
  • The humor and heart in every interaction (like a warm hug)
  • The magic system and worldbuilding (I kind of want more)

Overall, The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches was a lovely witchy romance that is filled with magic, hope and love. It’s an entertaining and sweet story that is beautifully written and will undoubtedly make you feel all warm and fuzzy when you read it.

Four Stars
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The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen
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Title: The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy
Author: Megan Bannen
Publisher:
Orbit Books
Release Date: August 23rd, 2022
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Genre: Adult – Romance – Fantasy

My rating in stars: 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


My rating in words: 
I loved it!

Check it out on Goodreads

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most – Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares – each other?

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MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):

“Do you ever look up? I mean really look? I find myself staring at the stars more and more lately, wondering what exactly it is I’m doing here.”

I’m not even sure how I can begin to describe The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy. It’s a romance. It’s a fantasy with zombie-like creatures. It is super sweet. It is kinda macabre. It’s cozy and whimsical and yet also gory at times. It’s feel-good but also may have you bawling a bit. Not many stories could pull of this many different vibes and yet still make so much sense. Basically, it’s one of a kind. I adored it!

At its heart, this is a romance between two people who hate each other. Mercy is an undertaker who loves her job and is trying to keep her family’s business afloat. Hart is a marshal who hunts zombies (drudges, as they’re called here) and delivers the bodies to the undertaker (Mercy). For years, they’ve despised each other and every interaction is barbed with insults. But underneath they’re both a little lonely. One day, Hart writes a letter to “a friend” as a way of letting his feelings out, never expecting it’ll be delivered to anyone, let alone that he’ll get a response. But somehow Mercy receives the letter and writes back. They strike up a pen pal friendship, not knowing that they’re bonding with their nemesis.

Like I said, this story is one of a kind and the blurb doesn’t do everything about it justice as this story is SO MUCH MORE, so let me try and break it down into everything I loved about The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy:

  • The enemies-to-lovers-romance – they really went from loathing to love and it was a nice, realistic slow-burn. Also, it’s actually quite steamy!
  • The pen pal romance. I will always love it when two people fall for each other’s thoughts and words first.
  • The sunshine/grumpy trope. Mercy is sunshine personified while Hart is a tough, prickly cookie with a heart of cinnamon.
  • Mercy’s family is the best. They have their issues and arguments, but they care so much for each other and the banter between them all is hilarious and realistic.
  • So is Hart’s “family”. I loved every single interaction between Hart and his new sunshiny apprentice. (Nothing better to soften a tough cookie like mentoring a ball of sunshine)
  • The worldbuilding is so unique and fun. There are gods and demigods and drudges and talking animal-messengers and it’s so amazing but also never too heavy.
  • Did I mention there are talking animal-messengers? We have a posh owl and a foul-mouthed rabbit and I adored them both so much.

Overall, The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is one of those unique reads that has something for everyone. It has such well-written characters, a slow-burn swoonworthy romance, action and mystery, so many emotions and feelings and a ton of humor to lighten up the mood in between all the dead and undead bodies. It’s weird, but the best kind of weird. I highly recommend!

Four and a half stars
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Tell Me:
Have you read The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches or The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy? What did you think about them?

Lindsey xoxo
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16 Comments

  1. These both sound like great reads and perfect for the season!

    1. They were indeed such perfect fall reads 🙂

  2. Great mini reviews! I can’t wait to read both of these. As I was looking at reviews for Irregular Witches, I did get the vibe of Cerulean Sea, which means that I’ll probably super love it 😍 I’ve also heard so many great things about Hart & Mercy and recently got a copy of it. Can’t wait to read it!

    1. Irregular Witches did indeed have House in the Cerulean Sea vibes, so I hope you’ll love it, and Hart & Mercy too!

  3. You make both of these sound excellent. I just put a hold on the audio of The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches. It’s one I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at without reading your review. Hopefully, the 47 people in front of me can hurry up. haha

    1. Oh I hope that those 47 people indeed hurry up so you can read it soon, and that you’ll love it too! 🙂

  4. Oh my gosh, I just NEED to get my hands on The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches. It sounds simply amazing! First of all, I’m turning 31 in December so I already feel connected with Mika and I also love all the bullet points you made about the book. I love everything about them!

    The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy sounds equally amazing. It’s been a while since I read a good pen pal romance and I love those soooo much. And I’m a sucker for talking animals, especially now I know that it has a foul-mouthed rabbit. Yes I need to read this ASAP!

    1. I hope you’ll love both of these! Mika was indeed such a nice character so I’m sure you’ll love her. And the foul-mouthed rabbit in The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy made me laugh so much.

  5. Sophie @BewareOfTheReader says:

    I absolutely agree with you on both reads here! I got the exact same vibes and they were heartwarming to read!

    1. They were indeed so heartwarming!

  6. I have been reading some cozy SF lately and I think I’m definitely ready for some cozy fantasy as well!

    1. Cozy fantasy is definitely my new addiction 🙂

  7. These both sound like so much fun! I’m definitely putting them on my TBR. I’m glad you loved them as much as you did.

    1. They both were a lot of fun! Hope you’ll love them as much as I did!

  8. Lauren Becker says:

    These both sound really good. Witches seems very cozy and lovely, and The Undertaking sounds super awesome. Thanks for the reviews.

    Lauren @ http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

    1. That’s exactly right 🙂 Hope you’ll love both of these if you decide to give them a try!

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