Described as “Bewitched meets Practical Magic”, A Letter to Three Witches is an utterly delightful gem of a book that scratches every single one of my specific spooky season itches.
Small town that probably has stunning fall foliage? Check. Family hijinx revolving around magic? Check. Just a hint of romance? Check. Cupcakes? Surprisingly, more checks than you realize.
A Letter to Three Witches follows cousins Gwen, Milo, and Trudy as they each receive a letter from their cousin Tannith, informing them that she is moving to New York on Friday, and will be taking one of their beaus with her. The three of them get together to try and figure out which of them is most likely to have their lives upended, and naturally things descend into chaos from there.
Things are made all the more hectic by the fact that theirs is a family of witches. However an edict passed down by the Council of Witches forbids anyone from their line from practicing magic for over a century, as retaliation for their ancestor bringing about the Dust Bowl. Not that this stops any of the cousins from the occasional quiet practice, despite the threat of the Council sending “Watchers” to punish them for disobeying. When Trudy’s reaction to the news spirals into something none of them know how to undo, they need to join forces with their cursed Aunt Esme to set everything right, while trying to keep their powers a secret from potential Watchers. All while racing against Tannith’s deadline.
Elizabeth Bass does a wonderful job of bringing the world of Zenobia, New York to life. It has all the charms of a small town, like the one café everyone frequents, while also mixing in the not-so-charming aspects, like neighbours that can’t mind their own business. She also wonderfully makes each of the cousins, and their cranky aunt, feel fleshed out in their own unique way. There is enough context and backstory given to make the reader care, without bogging it down in witchy lore that might otherwise distract from the story at hand.
There are enough twists in the novel to keep the reader invested and guessing at every turn, as the cousins slowly piece together the mysteries of their family and their own repressed abilities. There are enough threads left hanging that Bass could continue the story if she wanted, but as it is, A Letter to Three Witches is a perfectly satisfying standalone novel. I personally hope she does continue it though, as I would love the chance to return to Zenobia.
The Practical Magic comparaison is particularly good one to describe A Letter to Three Witches. Both are stories about magical families living under centuries-old curses that blend sincere emotion with comedy and swoony romance. But in the more meta sense, much like Practical Magic, A Letter to Three Witches might feel particularly satisfying during spooky season, it’s an enchanting read for any time of year.
A Letter to Three Witches is available January 25, 2022.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the advance copy for review purposes.
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