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‘The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches’ book review: A book that celebrates chosen family

‘The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches’ book review: A book that celebrates chosen family

Have you ever read a book and wished you had read it sooner? Do you have a book that you wish you could forget the story of just so you can reread and enjoy it all over again? Is there a book the lines of which made you feel seen and heard, almost like the author was in your head? ‘The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches’ by Sangu Mandanna is that book for me. I loved every word of it. I wish I had picked it up months ago when I first saw it at the bookstores and not waited for as long as I did. 

The book was slightly reminiscent of ‘The House on the Cerulean Sea’ by T.J. Klune which I had loved. Klune’s story was about a ministry worker who arrives to check in on some children with magical powers. In The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, Mika Moon, a 30-year-old witch, is invited to the mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches (Rosetta, Altamira, and Terracotta) how to control their powers. The characters and setting also felt somewhat similar to Klune’s book. But both the books have their own unique charm, and while I’d recommend both to those who haven’t read them, I’d recommend Mandanna’s book if you want a light, feel-good read. 

When Mika arrives at Nowhere House, she meets its inhabitants and is immediately charmed, despite Terracotta’s attempts to drive her away. She knows she’s there to teach the three children and thus only there temporarily but she’s never felt so at ease and at home as she does there. Ian, Ken, and Lucie, the people who reside there, make her feel welcome and loved. Then there’s Jamie (who like Terracotta doesn’t want Mika at the house) who she’s increasingly becoming interested in. She thinks there’s a good heart masked by a brooding personality and scowling face. 

But teaching the children to control their powers doesn’t seem to be the only issue at Nowhere House. Ian confesses that Edward is coming and that’s not good. Edward is Lillian’s attorney. Lillian is the owner of Nowhere House, and the one who brought the children there. She’s a witch and an anthropologist who travels extensively for work. And she hasn’t been back in over a year. Ian worries that if Edward sees the children when Lillian isn’t around and something happens to tip him off to the fact that these aren’t normal children, they will be taken away forcefully as Edward doesn’t like anyone at Nowhere House. He’s always been looking for a reason to throw them out of the house and he will have found one.  

Mika doesn’t have much time to make sure the children learn how to keep their magic in check. Then there’s also the issue of Primrose. She’s the oldest witch, one who is self-tasked with the job of keeping all the other witches safe. She believes the only way to do that is for every witch to stay alone, without the company of other witches since a lot of magic together can be troublesome. There are three (four including Mika) witches living together at Nowhere House and if Primrose were to find out they’d all risk being separated. The only reason Primrose hasn’t figured out yet is because Lillian has cast protective spells over the house. Without Lillian to recast the spells, Mika fears Primrose will eventually find out and enforce her rules. 

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a simple, heartwarming story of found family and love. The characters are endearing, making you want to give each of them a tight hug and tell them that everything will be okay. The writing is good. There are many lines and passages that you will want to mark or reread—they strike a chord. There’s just enough tension in the story to keep you hooked. You want to know how things will unfold but you aren’t stressed about it, which is a really good, comforting feeling when you are snuggled up with a book. 

Fantasy fiction 

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

Sangu Mandanna

Published: 2022

Publisher: Hodderscape

Pages: 318, Paperback