The world of witchy romance, and romance with a distinctly ~reylo~ vibe collide in hilarious fashion in Sarah Hawley’s upcoming A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon, which follows a witch, Mariel Spark, who accidentally summons a tall, broody demon who can’t leave until Mariel strikes a deal with him in exchange for her soul. Naturally Ozroth the Ruthless isn’t exactly what Mariel has always been led to believe a demon is like. He’s grumpy but not unkind. And it also helps that he’s hot as Hell (or hot as the demon realm, anyway).
With Mariel unwilling to give up her soul, and Ozroth unable to leave until she does, the two are forced to spend a lot of time together, leading Mariel’s friends and her overbearing family to believe the two are an item. But as they try to solve the problem together, the fake feelings naturally begin to…ahem…spark into something new.
Unlike many other witchy romances — which, don’t get me wrong, I loved — A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon makes the refreshing choice to have humanity at large aware of the existence of supernatural beings. While this doesn’t change anything for the story since all the main characters are themselves supernatural beings, it does save Mariel from having to hide the magical side of herself, instead of just hiding the tiny fact that her new boyfriend Oz might just be a demon.
Overall, the novel is laugh-out-loud funny, with a chaotic energy that would make Mariel proud and stress out Oz to no end. It also deals with very real issues like familial pressure, and forging your own path, and escaping out from under those who would control your life in such a direct, honest way that the outcome is intensely satisfying.
Mariel and Oz have such a sweet, intense relationship, the kind that really has you rooting for these two kids to find a way through and be together in the end. And if I found myself drawing parallels to a certain other love story from 2019 that didn’t end so well. Let’s just say to those that said a happy ending couldn’t be done there, Sarah Hawley manages to deliver satisfying, written proof that love can and should conquer all when you’re willing to sacrifice for it, even when matters of life and death make it seem literally impossible.
A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon is out March 7, 2023. Special thank you to Berkley for the advance copy for review purposes.