We have returned to Thistle Grove and Back in a Spell by Lana Harper is still going strong! I was not a huge fan of the first book, but after the sequel, it is growing on me! Continue reading to learn more about my journey in Thistle Grove.
Even though she won’t deny her love for pretty (and pricey) things, Nineve Blackmoore is almost painfully down-to-earth and sensible by Blackmoore standards. But after a year of nursing a broken heart inflicted by the fiancée who all but ditched her at the altar, the powerful witch is sick of feeling low and is ready to try something drastically different: a dating app.
At her best friend’s urging, Nina goes on a date with Morty Gutierrez, the nonbinary, offbeat soul of spontaneity and co-owner of the Shamrock Cauldron. Their date goes about as well as can be expected of most online dates—awkward and terrible. To make matters worse, once Morty discovers Nina’s last name, he’s far from a fan; it turns out that the Blackmoores have been bullishly trying to buy the Shamrock out from under Morty and his family.
But when Morty begins developing magical powers—something that usually only happens to committed romantic partners once they officially join a founding family—at the same time that Nina’s own magic surges beyond her control, Nina must manage Morty’s rude awakening to the hidden magical world, uncover its cause, and face the intensity of their own burgeoning connection. But what happens when that connection is tied to Nina’s power surge, a power she’s finding nearly as addictive as Morty’s presence in her life?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
This is certainly different from the first two books. The first was basically the Triwizard’s Tournament and the second was saving-your-beloved-from-the-terrors-of-a-grudge-holding-ancestor. Back in a Spell is more of an intimate look at being a part of a founding family. Harper mentions that this book out of the three is “closer to therapy.” Nina has to deal with a lot of her trauma from being a part of such a toxic power-hungry family. To the point that it almost leads her to become something she most definitely isn’t – a villain. We get an inside look into this family as well as Nina’s struggles to maintain the expectations of her family.
Enter Morty and their family, which essentially serves as the foil to Nina and the Blackmoores. Through her relationship with Morty, she learns to break out of the expectations of her family and begin to heal.
Characters and World Building
It’s difficult to separate discussing the characters and world-building. Part of what makes this series interesting (beyond magic, duh) is the prevalence of the four founding families. In Back in a Spell, we get to learn more about the Blackmoore family. We now are able to have an inside look into the expectations/prejudices that come with being a part of those families.
Many series that move around to different main characters from the same town/universe between books. Often these give focus on the best friend of one of the main characters or something like that. With Back in a Spell, I enjoyed getting to know characters that were tertiary to the first two books. This I think also helps with continuing to build the world of Thistle Grove. Even better, we get to learn more about the “normies” (i.e. non-witches) that live in Thistle Grove. While it could be easy to never talk about them, Harper did a great job integrating several normies into the plot.