If you came out of Jessica Clare’s Go Hex Yourself wanting to know more about grumpy warlock Willem and sunshine-personified shop assistant Penny, then What The Hex is exactly what you’ve been waiting for, as the story throws the two together for a delightful tropey adventure, which I mean in the best way possible.
Longtime familiar-in-waiting Penny gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she is offered the chance to act as familiar for the extremely grumpy Willem Sauer, who is currently serving a long ban on casting with a familiar. Knowing the opportunities are few and far between, Penny agrees to the job on the sly but of course things are never so simple.
Because no one can suspect what Penny and Willem are actually up to, the two of them concoct a fake dating story, and tell the entire magical community that they’re dating, to explain why she has suddenly moved in with him. Their wildly different personalities, however, make even this ruse difficult to pull off.
Complicating things further is Willem’s former master stopping at absolutely nothing to make his life miserable following a personal slight, and Penny’s so-called friends refusing to believe she and Willem simply fell in love, and casting doubts on her intentions as a result.
Unlike Go Hex Yourself, both Penny and Willem are fully immersed in the magical community and how it works, making it much less of a fish out of water story. Instead, because both of them already have that baseline knowledge in common It gives Clare the space to explore more of the world, and also give over more time to Penny and Willem as a pair.
This time around, while there was once again both the magical mystery to be solved and the budding romance happening at once, I feel like the story was a lot more focused on just the two of them in both respects. This is probably due to the actual mystery, not to mention the secret nature of their relationship in the first place, but as a result, it really made the chemistry jump out. They might not have gotten along at first, but having them both indisputably need each other from the get go – more so Willem needing Penny – forced them into a much quicker partnership than I am used to seeing from an enemies to lovers dynamic.
And to my Star Wars fans, if the cover art seems representative of a certain sequel trilogy ship…the in-book dynamic supports this theory 100%. In all, What The Hex was an extremely fun read, with a compelling plot and absolutely exquisite chemistry.
What The Hex is out April 4, 2023. Special thank you to Berkley for an advance copy for review purposes.