It’s a real pleasure today to share my review of My Favourite Witch by Sharon Booth, the second in a series about The Witches of Castle Clair – published as an e-book on 2nd April, and also available in paperback. The kindle copy I read was my own, pre-ordered from Amazon and delivered to my kindle on publication day – and having so enjoyed the first in the series, Belle, Book and Christmas Candle (you’ll find my review here), I was really dying to finding the time to read it.
I’ll admit to being a bit of fan of Sharon’s lovely writing – and having had the pleasure of spending some time in her company a few times now, I can also say that she’s really rather lovely too. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed both books in her Moorland Heroes series, Resisting Mr Rochester and Saving Mr Scrooge (links are to my reviews) – and loved Baxter’s Christmas Wish too, although I’ve yet to visit Kearton Bay, Skimmerdale or Bramblewick. But this new series has really captured my interest and imagination – you know, of this reader who doesn’t really like anything witchy or supernatural! – and I was so looking forward to seeing where she’d take the series with the second book…
The world is full of magic, if you know where to look.
It hasn’t been an easy time for Star St Clair. Her father has heaped disgrace on the family, and the man she loves rejected her when he discovered the truth about her powers. But the St Clair family’s magical heritage goes back centuries, and no one could be prouder of that than Star. Neither her father, nor Benedict Greenwood, will be forgiven.
Fate, however, has a shock in store for her. Not only is her errant father back in town, along with his new fiancée, but her ex has arrived home with a new girlfriend in tow. Maths teacher Elsie is everything Benedict seems to want – bright, steady, normal. How can Star possibly compete with her? Not that she intends to, of course. She is a St Clair, after all, and Benedict won’t get a second chance.
Benedict is an anxious man. Bad enough to discover your girlfriend is, in fact, a witch, but running out on her was probably a big mistake. Who knows what she’s plotting in revenge? Taking Elsie home to meet his grandmother is a test of nerve, and Star’s behaviour doesn’t exactly bring him peace of mind. Just what is she up to?
Star couldn’t be sweeter to Elsie, and even presents her with a bouquet of flowers to welcome her to Castle Clair, but Benedict isn’t fooled. Star is plotting something, and when Elsie suffers from a mysterious ailment, he is convinced that it’s all down to his ex-girlfriend. After all, everyone knows witches can’t be trusted.
But events are about to unfold that will challenge both Star and Benedict, and everything they believe to be true. In an attic room in North Yorkshire and a village hall in Ireland, unpalatable truths must be told, secrets must unfold, and life-changing decisions must be made. Is forgiveness truly impossible? Are witches really that scary? And can a solution be reached before time, patience, and all the bourbon biscuits run out?
A story of pride, prejudice, and a whole lot of magic …
So, the second in this lovely series is Star’s story – another witch, she’s the sister of Sky, who we got to know so well in the earlier book. I have to say that I find the author’s imagination quite astounding – I just loved all the magical twists of turns in this book as our heroine stumbles, falls, and picks herself up again on her way to the hoped for happy ending. And she really does have rather more obstacles than most – when the fact that you’re a witch makes the man of your dreams recoil in horror and run for the hills, you know there’s bound to be something of a struggle ahead.
I liked the fact that the book is told – mainly – in the first person, and Star’s matter-of-fact approach to magic and her general bolshiness makes her a really likeable but sympathetic heroine. All the instant teleportation (or “zapping” as Sky likes to call it!), the magicking of meals and fires in the grate, the electric shocks from other witches, the familiars, the spells, the witch bottles – this might not be a world I enter that often, but I found it immense fun.
But there’s more to this book than its magic – it’s also a surprisingly strong and convincing love story, complicated by the bonds of family and quite a few rather complex relationships, and the difficult choices a person sometimes has to make in the name of love and trust.
And then there’s the humour – and that’s another area where the author always has a really special touch. I just loved the budgie (I suspect I’ve never before used those words before in a review…), the witches’ hierarchy and atrocious snobbery towards the lower orders, the interactions with the cat familiars (particularly the wonderful Paypacket), and so many of the family interactions with the strong personalities fighting for supremacy.
Benedict’s extreme reactions (and the twists and turns of the story that only make everything even worse before it has a chance to get better) are a wonderful source of fun: I didn’t really take to him at first, and I suspect I really wasn’t meant to, but I really did like the way his character developed.
And I love the setting of these books, so vividly described. Whenever I visit Knaresborough these days, it’s Castle Clair I see – expecting to stumble across the Broom Closet and the Rosemary Tea Rooms, perhaps to meet one of the sisters in the market square on their way home or find them sitting on a bench near the castle and museum.
I’m looking forward – very much – to meeting the St Clairs again on another visit. I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, and it really wouldn’t be complete without Celeste’s story…!
About the author
Sharon writes heartwarming love stories set in beautiful Yorkshire. Her books are romantic but fun, and a happy ending for her main characters is guaranteed – though she makes them work for it!
As well as full-length novels she has written pocket novels for DC Thomson, and several of her “Fabrian Books’ Feel-Good Novels” have also been published in large-print format by Ulverscroft, as part of their Linford Romance Library.
Her short story, The Other Side of Christmas, was included in the Winter Tales anthology – a collection of seasonal stories by popular writers, in aid of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and The Teenage Cancer Trust. Her 2017 novel, Resisting Mr Rochester, was awarded a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award.
Sharon lives in East Yorkshire with her husband and their dog. She is one tenth of The Write Romantics and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
She has a love/hate relationship with chocolate, is a devoted Whovian, adores Cary Grant movies, and admits to being prone to all-consuming crushes on fictional heroes.
When she’s not writing, she spends as much time as possible getting her money’s worth from her membership of English Heritage.
For more information on Sharon and her books, she has an excellent website: you can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also find Sharon, together with her friend and fellow writer Jessica Redland, at their Yorkshire Rose Writers website, and via their Twitter account.