Book Review

Harley Merlin And The Secret Coven

You ever have that one friend who always knows exactly which books you’re going to love? Yeah, she recommended this one to me, and explained it as kind of like HP for adults.

Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven

  • Author: Bella Forrest
  • Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA
  • Publication Date: August 27, 2018
  • Publisher: Nightlight Press
  • Series: Harley Merlin #1

TRIGGER WARNING: mention of foster care, vague references of child abuse (off-page)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Being an empath has its advantages …

Harley Merlin can sense people’s emotions, among other things. It’s how she snagged her first job pinpointing cheaters at a casino. But she has no clue where she got these freakish powers because she spent her childhood jumping from home to home in the foster system, and her father left her with nothing more than a cryptic note.

Then she crosses paths with a terrifyingly real monster. Which is when a mysterious and annoyingly arrogant young warlock named Wade Crowley steps in, introducing her to a hidden world of magical and covens riddled with secrets — as well as clues about her murky past.

Whether she likes it or not, this new world is where she belongs. But after a disturbing twist of events, Harley quickly realizes that her past is darker than she could ever have imagined. And that someone in the coven is out for her blood.

With the help of Wade and her new friends, she must figure out who the traitor is and why they’re targeting her … Before the human and magical worlds dangerously collide.

I definitely felt an HP influence, but there’s a unique feel to it as well.

I liked Harley right off the bat. She’s smart, she works hard, and she’s taught herself how to use her abilities to her advantage. As an empath, she actually experiences the feelings of others, which I could see being frustrating. She deals with that throughout the book, and relies on the emotions she picks up to read others. That part has to come in handy, at least.

“My abilities didn’t come with an instruction manual, so I had to do my best with trial and error.”

I liked that there’s some hints of chemistry in the story, but that it isn’t a main focus. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy romance as part of a story, but it isn’t always necessary — Harley has so much new information and change being thrown at her, I felt like adding a romantic relationship to her arc would have detracted from her personal growth.

Orphan with magical abilities seemed like a great setup for The Chosen One, but instead, Harley walked right into a Found Family trope. She doesn’t know anything about her birth family, but in the coven, she finds her own version of family amongst people with abilities like her own. I loved that her group of people is diverse, with different cultures and their various magical traditions represented and respected.

I won’t say that this book is a literary masterpiece, and after reading it, I realized that the author seems to consistently put out new books fairly quickly. However, it was enjoyable, kept my attention hooked, and regularly surprised me with the twists and turns of the story. It was a fun read and I’m already looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 8

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