Sarah Hawley’s A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon was a good debut and an interesting start to her witchy/supernatural romance series. There were certainly some things I could do without and others I would have liked to be more pronounced, but a solid book nonetheless. Continue reading to see what I mean!
Mariel Spark is prophesied to be the most powerful witch seen in centuries of the famed Spark family, but to the displeasure of her mother, she prefers baking to brewing potions and gardening to casting hexes. When a spell to summon flour goes very wrong, Mariel finds herself staring down a demon—one she inadvertently summoned for a soul bargain.
Ozroth the Ruthless is a legend among demons. Powerful and merciless, he drives hard bargains to collect mortal souls. But his reputation has suffered ever since a bargain went awry—if he can strike a bargain with Mariel, he will earn back his deadly reputation. Ozroth can’t leave Mariel’s side until they complete a bargain, which she refuses to do (turns out some humans are attached to their souls).
But the witch is funny. And curvy. And disgustingly yet endearingly cheerful. Becoming awkward roommates quickly escalates when Mariel, terrified to confess the inadvertent summoning to her mother, blurts out that she’s dating Ozroth. As Ozroth and Mariel struggle with their opposing goals and maintaining a fake relationship, real attraction blooms between them. But Ozroth has a limited amount of time to strike the deal, and if Mariel gives up her soul, she’ll lose all her emotions—including love—which will only spell disaster for them both.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Hawley crafted an intriguing world here. I liked how she changed some connotations and assumptions made (in the book and outside) of demons. That made the importance of soul collecting and Oz’s responsibilities seem more compelling than the idea of “Oh a demon just ant souls because they are evil!” We learned that witches and demons are not the only supernatural being in the world. One of her best friends is a pixie and her coworker is a nymph and her boss is a werewolf. Representation! I think it will be interesting to see how this may develop in the next book in the series.
I honestly think the role of Mariel’s earth magic and the issues about the rot in the woods should be emphasized more in the summary. This is the portion of the book that I really enjoyed the most. It helped to show Mariel’s strengths in a way that did not require external praise (from family or from winning gardening competitions). Mariel’s abilities were saving and fighting against this miasma in the woods. But by all means, let’s focus on the fake relationship.
I am not trying to disparage the fake relationship trope, but I’ve been seeing it so much recently. It becomes too easy of a way to build a romance. “Oh, so they have to spend literally every minute of the day together!!! They WILL fall in love as every adult is want to do when spending time with LITERALLY ANYONE…” In addition, it just happened so fast. It started with each other not trusting the other, then the next page BAM sex. Obvious exaggeration, but there was no real build-up to the relationship in a way I would have preferred.
Additionally, it seemed like there Mariel was so easily swayed by what everyone had to say causing her to trust and then not trust Oz, like flicking on and off a light. This is also what made the relationship not work for me.