New Book Nook: Romance, Old Rivalries and Family Curses Combine in ‘From Bad to Cursed’

Welcome back to Thistle Grove! The sequel to last year’s delightful Payback’s A Witch is here, and once again author Lana Harper has brought that perfect balance of magic and romance, this time with a dash of mystery to keep things interesting.

Months after the events of Payback’s A Witch, the four magical families of Thistle Grove are preparing for springtime, specifically the events leading up to and surrounding Beltane. At the first event of the season, meant to select the ceremonial Queen, a malevolent curse is unleashed, stripping one of the contestants of her magic and destroying all nearby plant life.

Tasked with investigating the strange occurrence are Rowan Thorn, cousin to the affected witch, and Isidora Avramov, whose family’s reputation for dabbling in the dark makes them the prime suspects. In the interest of fairness, Isa and Rowan agree to conduct the investigation together and agree not to dispute the verdict, no matter what they find.

Complicating matters are the fact that the two of them have something of a history. Seven years earlier, Rowan was Isa’s supervisor at the local animal shelter and according to her harboured an unreasonable grudge against her. In the time since, he has built up in her head to be sanctimonious and hard to work with.

It’s a real shame about that whole “growing attraction for each other” thing.

As with the first book in the Thistle Grove series, the magic and lore of the town is every bit as important to the story as the central romance. The histories of the families who make up the town’s magical population is examined from a new lens this time around, and draws on what the reader is already familiar with without ever feeling repetitive.

As a couple, Isa and Rowan are a delight. They feel like two sides of a coin, embodiments of dark and light, death and life. Neither side is ever presented as a negative, at least not in a way that is not later examined and dismissed. They both fill a role in the natural cycle and they love each other for it.

This time around the story still maintains its overall small-town Hallmark feel, but with a lush, fantasy feel to it, full of beautiful starlit, candlelight imagery that just adds to the sweeping, romantic, even nostalgic feel of it all.

Fans of the first book will be happy to know we do check in a little with Emmy and Talia, and with more books coming from this series, I’m happy to know I don’t have to say goodbye to Thistle Grove any time soon.


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