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Book Review: ‘The Honey Witch’ by Sydney J. Shields

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Marigold has never really fit in anywhere. In Bardshire everyone has a talent. Whether it’s musical, artistic, or theatrical, everyone can do something. Everyone except Marigold. It’s very lonely being the only untalented person around. Then her estranged grandmother shows up and changes everything. She reveals Marigold’s legacy as a Honey Witch, meant to keep the balance of nature. Now Marigold understands her true talent but she’s still desperately alone. Can Marigold ever have it all? The Honey Witch is a tantalizing love story for the summer from Sydney J. Shields.

[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Redhook for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of The Honey Witch contains some spoilers!]

A lonely choice for Marigold

Marigold has felt alone all her life. She loves her family, and they love her, but she feels the distance between her and her hugely talented brother and sister. Her father always shines with pride for her, but Marigold can’t see why. And her mother is chronically disappointed in her. She’s had a couple of flings but nothing has gone anywhere and at twenty-one, she feels like she’s getting into old maid territory.

Feeling lost and left behind, Marigold is sinking when her grandmother, Althea, unexpectedly shows up. Marigold’s mother is furious and tries to make her leave, but Althea refuses to go before revealing to Marigold that she’s a Honey Witch. It’s her destiny to keep the balance of nature. Marigold revels in the knowledge that she’s not untalented, she just has a different talent.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There is an Ash Witch, the opposite of a Honey Witch, who has cursed her family and wants to destroy Marigold. That’s why her mother gave up her powers and hid the truth from Marigold. She’s furious that her mother has shown up and exposed Marigold after all this time, and even more furious when Marigold leaves to take on the mantle of Honey Witch.

But Marigold needs to follow this path. She needs to belong. And if part of this legacy is giving up love (the curse), she’s prepared for that, it’s not like love has ever done anything for her.

 But then Marigold comes to find out that twenty-one is rather young to give up on love, and it turns out that some things are worth fighting for.

The Honey Witch by Sydney J. Shields

Love is everywhere in The Honey Witch

It seems like everyone is in love in The Honey Witch. Unfortunately for Marigold, her bloodline has been cursed to have to choose between love and magic. At first, this seems like a no-brainer for Marigold, love has never done her any good, and she doesn’t see herself missing it. But as more and more people fall in love around her, she begins to see what she’s missing. 

Then Lottie comes into her life. Marigold feels herself drawn to Lottie, but Lottie doesn’t seem to like Marigold at all. In fact, she seems repulsed by her. Complicating matters, Lottie is the foster sister of Marigold’s best friend, August. And they’re close. So whenever Marigold sees August, she sees Lottie. Love is the big theme of The Honey Witch, so of course Marigold and Lottie start falling in love, but they have a powerful curse to fight against. Eventually, the question isn’t do they love each other, it’s is that love worth the price?

Marigold and Lottie’s love might be the center of The Honey Witch, but it’s far from the only love in the story. Now the book is set in a fictional world and time, but it has a very 1700 to 1800s feel to the time. A notoriously prudish time in our world. But the concept of love is very open in The Honey Witch. Men love women, men love men, women love men, and women love women. They can be bisexual, asexual, monogamous or polygamous. And no one has a problem with this. It’s all seen as normal, so long as all parties are consenting.

It was very freeing to not have people being closeted or afraid of their feelings because of the gender of who they were attracted to. Sure, there was fear and closeting of feelings, but it was about curses and rejection, feelings that everyone can relate to when it comes to love.

The ending of a curse for The Honey Witch

We’re all familiar with the fairy tale curse that is broken by true love’s first kiss. But this curse doesn’t get broken that way. In fact, true love’s kiss just makes everything worse. Marigold has to dig deeper and sacrifice more than a kiss to overcome the evil in her story. I liked that the curse didn’t just affect Marigold and didn’t manifest the way I expected it to. The surprises in the curse storyline took an obvious opposites-attract love story and made it really interesting.

The Honey Witch is a nice summer read with some unexpected twists. There’s plenty of love and excitement without any heaviness to the story. It’s a perfect time passer for hanging out next to the pool, so check out Sydney J. Shields’ The Honey Witch!

Rating: 8/10

The Honey Witch is now available wherever books are sold. Are you going to check out this book? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord!

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

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