Cover Image: Payback's a Witch

Payback's a Witch

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Member Reviews

Emmeline Harlow left the magical town of Thistle Grove nearly ten years ago after a breakup led to her questioning and rebelling against her place in the town. But when the Gauntlet, a bicentennial town tradition, comes around, Emmeline returns to pick up her family's mantle of arbitrator to the competition. As the scion to the Harlow family, it is her duty to run the Gauntlet for the heirs of the other three founding families, which this Gauntlet includes Emmeline's ex, her best friend's twin, and her high-school crush. 

Payback's a Witch moves along at a good pace, but it does take 'only show the important scenes' to a jarring new level. Often at the end of a chapter or paragraph break it seemed like Em would do something only for readers to come back after the break with her already having done it. Sometimes it felt like whole scenes were missing too, like when Em agrees to have a heart-to-heart with her mother right before the chapter ends, only for the next challenge to immediately begin in the next. The story could've used smoother transitions. 

The plot was light and fun without anything really heavy in it. There could've been more everyday magic outside the Gauntlet, but part of the plot concerns the luck that surrounds the winner's family WITHOUT magic being directly involved, so I suppose that fits. 

Overall, Payback's a Witch was a fun read and I look forward to Lana Harper's future books.
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This book is big and magical and powerful but also so small and cozy like a warm mug of tea on a rainy day. It makes you want to go to this town. I want to meet these people I want to attend this magical competition. And the romance within it all is sexy and messy and Ernest and realistic and complicated. The chemistry in the romance is unreal from the very start and the only option is for you to be pulled in. What an utter delight of a book that I know I will turn back to when I need to escape and feel a little magic.
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okay but think the movie ‘john tucker must die’ but queer and with witches. this book is funny and cute and felt like the literary embodiment of the month of october.
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3.70 stars but rounding up.
This is the perfect book to read in Autumn! It has such a warm, magical and witchy vibe! I really liked the competition aspect of the story and although I enjoyed the romance in the story it didn’t feel strictly like most contemporary romances. The back story and world building felt  more complex then most romance books.
Overall it’s a fun, easy read and I definitely recommend it for the Fall season!
Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
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I always love a good  funny revenge story and it has a happy twist. Lots of great character development.
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It was a fun ride. I do have one bone to puck though. You can’t compare something the The L Word in the summary if The Who,e plot revolves around 3 women who are mad at a guy because they all slept with him and he broke it off or cheated. Like even the character were to.d only likes girls sleeps with him multiple times. Like what? Even if there’s a f/f romance. IT’S THE WHOLE PLOT!! Other than that, the characters where fun and the story atmospheric and compulsively readable.
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I loved this book! I have been on a huge LGBTQ+ kick lately and it’s wonderful that there are so many romances out there with characters that are “like me.” 

The story is fantastic. The only negative comment I had was that there was occasionally so much break in between the competition that I slightly forgot about it. But the story was fun and enchanting and I loved the characters!
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Thanks to Berkley and NetGalley for this eARC!

Okay I took a huge Olympics-sized break in the middle of reading this one, but I liked it! The fall vibes are incredibly strong here and the witch world building was fun! I liked the witchy contest at the center of this one, though the focus on the contest and world building made the romance feel like a b-plot (this did not bother me because the other plots were good!) What I really wanted more of though was Emmy's repaired BFF relationship. 

Honestly, everyone should read this and Erin Sterling's witch romance this fall. Witch vibes all around!
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I love love LOVED this title. LGBTQIA+ titles are not my norm but this one was sweet, engaging, and a delight. I cannot wait to read more by this author.
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Think 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' with a supernatural 'John Tucker Must Die' twist and sapphic romance, and that's what you get with PAYBACK'S A WITCH. The premise itself is a ton of fun: Emmy, a former-ish witch, returns to her hometown to oversee the magical competition between the "heirs" of the other three magic families in town - one of whom is her awful ex who broke her heart. When she gets home, she quickly discovers that her BFF Linden and another witch in town, Talia, have also been screwed over by Gareth, and they hatch a plan: to stop Gareth from winning the tournament at all costs.

It's a witty, breezy book with plenty of romance and playful fall vibes. The pacing isn't always perfect - some of the "down time" that's meant to be emotional story building doesn't always land quite right - but the characters are fun and the premise is a blast. It's a fun and satisfying fall read and an intriguing start to building a broader world for these characters in a planned series.
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A fun story of finding home after coming of age, Lana Harper creates characters that the reader cares for in a world that is compelling and interesting.
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Ok this one was really sweet. The snappy, pop culture-laced dialogue testifies to the author’s previous YA experience. The competitions were richly described and easy to visualize. There are lots of great characters to get attached to and I was relieved that the last part of the galley was  a preview of the sequel. I look forward to it.
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Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review! 

I wanted to love this *sobs into a bowl of cereal* Sapphic love story about witches in a small town?? Everything about that is up my alley. I'll start with what worked for me, which unfortunately, was not nearly as much as I hoped it would be. 

First off, hot witches? *chefs kiss* Emmy and Talia are the definition of people I want to both BE and BE WITH. Lore and differing magical affinities between families? Super cool. World building that didn't always feel like world building? Rad!

The pacing of this book, however, was fairly bizarre. The Gauntlet competitions, over which Emmy presides as Arbiter, were set in between giant interludes of text. (During which, I hate to say, not much happens.) Most of the characters felt precisely like that—characters in a book. It was difficult for me to feel connected to anyone. The pithy banter between Emmy and Talia occasionally crept toward cringe, and the writing style sometimes made me pause (yes, I hovered over "loins" because my eyes were burning). 

Did this give me the cozy sweater, wrap-me-up-in-a-sweater vibes? Kind of? Hence the rating of 3 stars rather than 2. For a book about witches, the magic felt lackluster.
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I received a Digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

The second I saw this book described as "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The L Word," I knew I had to request this ARC from NetGalley! 

Payback's a Witch follows Emmeline (Emmy) Harlow, a descendant of her magical town's magical founders as she returns to her hometown of Thistle Grove to serve as Arbiter for the tournament the founders' descendants hold every 50 years. Emmy fled Thistle Grove as a young adult after a tumultuous relationship with Gareth Blackmoore, from the most powerful family among the founders, and has established a life without magic, her friends, or her family.

Emmy soon finds out that Gareth has left a trail of heartbroken women in his wake, including her best friend, Linden, and the "aggressively attractive" Talia Avramov, another descendant and a participant in the upcoming tournament. The three of them set out on a plan of revenge and along the way, Emmy finds herself unable to stop thinking about Talia and how she must soon leave Thistle Grove to return to her magic-less (and Talia-less) life.

Overall, this book was a fun and cozy read. I especially liked the dialog, the characters were quick witted and it flowed nicely. For someone that generally does not read a ton of books with a magical element, I was easily able to understand the world Harper built as well as the magical system. The Triwizard Tournament-esque competition was also fun to read. The main characters were well-developed, but I had some trouble keeping the minor characters straight.

I'm rating this book a 3.5, rounding up to 4. While I'm not sure I'd continue the series, I'd be interested to see where Harper takes the story.
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You know the Hallmark movie trope, where a young woman comes home from her life in the Big City, back to her hometown, and discovers that maybe, everything she needed, including romance, was back home all along? This is like that. But queer. And full of magic. Like, Triwizard Tournament kind of magic. Payback's a Witch is delightful, light and fluffy and a perfect escapist read for the summer.
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One of the more interesting modern witch stories I've read in a while. I really enjoy that it's based in a town that has been run by witch/warlock families for generations upon generations, plus who doesn't like a little stray schnauzer turned familiar with more sass than the entire character roster! Loved it.
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This is a Pumpkin Spice Latte of a book and I mean that in the best way possible! Lana Harper sets a cozy fall tone that I just loved. I hope she writes more books set in the world of Thistle Grove. I need more adventures with Emmy Harlow and the other magical families!
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Glad to see this is the start of a series; there are several more romances to resolve. Had a bit of a Tri-Wizard tournament vibe and to be honest, I was here for it.
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Excellent plotting and pacing. The story features Emmy, a witch who has left her childhood home for the non-magical world. She returns to be the arbiter of the Gauntlet, a regularly occurring game ritual among Thistle Grove's founding witch families. There, she teams up with her best friend Linden (along with Linden's twin brother Rowan) and teen crush Natalia to give Gareth, the town golden boy and douche, his comeuppance.

Emmy goes through a lot in this book. She comes to terms with the relationship that hurt her as a teen, makes amends with her friends, and gets closer to Talia, since they have a mutual attraction. Both Emmy and Talia have dated men and women before, though Talia has a preference for women. This is a fact that isn't an issue with any of the characters.

I really liked how the author put in clues of things that would be important later. The clues were mentioned more than once so they'd stick, but not so often that it was annoying. Everything chugs right along, and it's an easy read. 

For those wondering about the heat level, there is a significant kiss and a mostly fade to black sex scene.

Overall, a nice romance with an even more impressive journey for Emmy. It's the perfect light, witchy fun read for fall.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher and NetGalley.
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I enjoyed the whole magic competition aspect of this book. The fight scenes were really enjoyable. Also, the little twist at the end was a nice surprise. Although I felt like the whole fight and makeup between Emmy and Talia that happened in the last few chapters was resolved really quickly.
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