Book Review

Hex Appeal

Hex Appeal

  • Author: Kate Johnson
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2022 
  • Publisher: One More Chapter 

Thank you to NetGalley and One More Chapter for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: murder, brief mention of gore, mention of past toxic relationship, mention of off-page rape

It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus…

Essie Winterscale lives in a huge and ever-changing house in the village of Good Winter, in deepest, darkest Essex. She lives with various witches of various ages, one of whom is still a bit salty about having been burned at the stake in 1635, one who keeps accidentally casting fertility spells, and one who knits things that create the future.

All Essie ever wanted was to have a normal life but in the end she found herself drawn back to Beldam House because she just can’t stop her witchiness (although the ability to instantly chill wine is pretty awesome, even she has to admit).

Into this coven of chaos stumbles gorgeous, clueless Josh, their new landlord – and he’s just discovered his tenants haven’t paid rent since the 1700s! As Josh is drawn further into the lives of the inhabitants of Beldam House, Essie is determined to keep him at broomstick’s length. That is, until a family secret, lying hidden for centuries, puts Josh firmly under her spell…

I’m such a sucker for any and everything related to witches as soon as the season shifts to autumn and straight through until the end of October. So this definitely caught my eye. Recently, witchy paranormal romance has been especially satisfying, so I went into this with very high hopes.

It took me a while to get into this story. Neither main character was immediately engaging to me—Essie was a condescending frost queen, while Josh was so down on his luck and … sad. It was hard to connect with either of them for the first part of the book, and as a very visual reader, I really struggled with following the descriptions of Beldam House. It’s a very adaptable house, and was described in such a confusing way that I had a lot of difficulty even picturing it at all.

However, once I pushed through the first third of the book, I really got into the story. The characters started to show a different side of themselves, and it made them so much more likable and easier to connect with. I enjoyed the connection between them as well as the side characters, who really made the story for me. Siena, Avery, Maude, Prudence, Blessing, and Lilith all contributed so much to the story, and I loved how unique each of them were.

The magic system in the story was fun, and even Beldam House became a part of the magic system. I loved how witchcraft was portrayed in this book, and there were flashes of humor throughout the story. In addition, there was something else more nefarious going on in the seemingly idyllic town of Good Winter that kept my attention hooked. I loved how everything tied together, and by the end, I was sad to let go of the characters.

Overall, this was a fun and sweet romance that wasn’t afraid to address difficult issues of toxic relationships, women’s empowerment, and dysfunctional family relationships. However, it also talked about how the power of various forms of love, including romantic, friendship, and both blood and found family can help to overcome challenges and offer strength you didn’t even know you needed. This was a mostly fluffy and quick read that was perfect for spooky season.

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