Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!
Today’s pick is one of my favorite reads of 2022 and since today is Halloween and my favorite holiday, I think it’s a perfect time to share it.
Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson
I feel like this book has been a long time coming. It is for former fans of Harry Potter who are tired of the author’s transphobia. Specifically, the sweet spot is fans who were maybe in middle school or junior high when the Harry Potter books came out and are now in their 30s. This book is definitely geared toward adults, as it contains violence, transphobia, and sex on the page.
The book opens 25 years earlier, at the ceremony where our main five childhood girlfriends become witches. They are Helena, Elle, Leonie, Ciara, and Niamh. Flash forward to the present. Helena Vance is the High Priestess of Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, the HMRC. It leans towards very white, especially in it’s “feminism.” At one point before this time, there was a schism and Leonie, who is Black and queer, forms a different, more inclusive coven outside of the HMRC. This coven is called Diaspora. Niamh lives out in the country a bit, trying to mind her own business and does some veterinary work. In the last 25 years there was a huge war and a lot of lives were lost, both witches and warlocks alike and all our adult characters are dealing with that trauma in their own ways.
Well, the action in this book doesn’t take long to start. Helena teleports into Niamh’s yard unannounced and asks for Niamh’s help. There’s been a prophecy and it is very, very bad. The awful thing that is supposed to come to pass is, apparently, started off with a child of immense power. Helena believes that they have apprehended the child, who is a teen that they have locked up until they figure out what to do. Note: this is all conjecture on their part. That being said, the teen has more unbridled power than any warlock they know. Niamh can read minds and Helena hopes she can help because the teen is not talking. Helena eventually allows Niamh to take the teen, Theo, home with her to help teach them and maybe keep the apocalypse from happening.
The magic battles in this book are amazing and so much more than just waggling wands at each other. Clearly it is a direct response to HP and specifically the author and sometimes this book is heavy-handed and quite on-the-nose but oh, it’s delicious and fun! A strong opener to this forthcoming trilogy.
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That’s it for now, booklovers!
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