Cover Image: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Berkley Romance and NetGalley for access to this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. 

This book was perfection. That's all. Everyone should read this tender, beautiful book about found families and all encompassing love.
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This book is basically a cozy hug. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator had such a soothing voice, it was such a pleasant experience. I loved the themes of found family and acceptance. I will definitely be picking up any future releases from the author.
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A cute romance sprinkled with magic, secrets and the bonding of a new found family. 

Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this!
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Mika knows she needs to hide her magic and keep to herself. She does expect for an online account which she is certain no one will take seriously. But, she was wrong. With an unexpected message, she finds herself at Nowhere House where she is asked to help three young witches control their magic. This goes against everything she has been taught, but she takes a chance. As she starts to get more involved in Nowhere House, Mika starts to realize that maybe things aren't what she has always been told. 

This book had sounded adorable. I was thrilled to pick this up and see where this story would go and couldn't have been more thrilled. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches was an adorable cozy book that made me smile and really felt like a warm hug. 

With the witches, I really did come into this expect this to have more of a vibe that fits fall, but I was pleasantly surprised at how many winter feels this one had as well. It is set around the holidays, so while I started it thinking I read it at the wrong time of year, I was wrong and picked it up at the right time. 

There was so much to love her. the family family trope was done so well here. The change in, not just Mika, every character as they got to know one another was wonderful to see. The reader could see them healing as they got to know one another and formed a stronger bond. As the story went on, it became more and more clear how much they all needed one another. It got to the point where I really felt like I was part of the family as well. They all worked so well together and really figured out how to help one another and communicate as they learned more about one another. With each interaction, it was clear how much they cared about one another and wanted the best for each other. The way they treated each other really added to the warm hug feeling. 

Mika and Jamie did have a little budding romance and what I loved most about it, was that it was really in the background. The whole focus was on the found family and finding a family can really help heal you. Now, the romance being in the background I do feel like it was a little weak. It was important and a slow-burn, but it did feel a little weak for me. Truthfully, this wasn't a problem for me as I do feel like the found-family aspect was done so well that it made up for it, but I know it could be a problem for others, so keep that in mind as you dive into this one. 

The main character, Mika, was a wonderful character. She was so well written and easy to fall in love with. I found myself able to easily empathize with her. With how she was raised, she easily could have been a completely different character, but I love how she kept this wonderful energy and had such a positive outlook.

Another important thing that I adored about her, is she really looked back on her life, how she was raised, how that made her feel and made sure to go and help the three girls. It would be breaking the rules she was trying to abide by, but she didn't want them to grow up feeling like she did. Mika was determined to break that trauma and I admire her for that! It's something I'd love to see more of. 

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is now the standard for the found family trope with me. It was a warm hug and quickly climbed to the top of my favorites list. If found family tropes or cozy books are your thing, give this one a chance. I can't imagine that you would regret it.
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Seriously, this sounded like an absolute delight and I just had to read it.

Mika Moon has been a social media witch for a while, but other than that has been hiding her identity as a witch her entire life, as she taught. Things seem to be following the normal, until one day she gets a message from Nowhere House. There, three young witches are coming into their magic and desperately need a teacher to help them understand how to harness it. Mika, feeling that maybe she could help, goes to Nowhere House and finds many things there that she did not expect.

Firstly, I am just going to lay it out there. I LOVED, loved this book. The cast of characters, the setting, the kind of Mary Poppins esque little bits of magic here and there. And the magic that was uniquely the book's own. It just was such a joyful delight overall.

I really loved the dialogue too. The times that Jamie and Mika were giving each other crap back and forth. I laughed quite a few times. 

I think there was just a great mixture of cozy vibes in this, but also some fantastic magical realism. It's a book that you almost kind of want to walk into the world and become friends with the characters. That's such a fun world to read. 

Thank you so much for the ARC!
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This book was perfect from start to finish. I could genuinely not put it down because I was so invested in Mika and her story. It gave me similar cozy, uplifting vibes as the movie The Holiday. The characters were all so unique and I felt like I knew them personally, and there was not a single twist or conflict that felt out of place. The use of magic was clearly well thought out and never felt like it was just being used to move the plot along, it had its own purpose and life outside of the events of the story.I will be recommending this book to a lot of people.
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I was lucky to be given an ARC of this book to review, though I’m behind and just not getting to it. This was my first book by this author, and I couldn’t wait to see what they had in store for this highly anticipated (by me) book. And it did not disappoint! I fell in love with the characters from the first page, and I couldn't get enough of the story.

This is the perfect cozy, fantasy book. The setting was so vivid and all I wanted to do was go live in Nowhere house, and read books with Jamie in the library or help Ken in the garden. I also fall head over heels for not only the romance, but also the kids in this house. By the end, I would protect any of these characters with my life.

This book also has a conversation about human connection. The author mentions in her note at the end that she wrote this during the pandemic when connection was non-existent. And you can really tell the topic was important to the author, and (in my opinion) she did it justice! Human connection and family are so important, and the themes of found family in this book showcase this. The book was filled with all the perfect cozy fantasy and romance vibes, but it also tackled this topic in a way that felt realistic for our main characters with a resolution that is both realistic and satisfying. 

I’m not sure I can do this book justice with my review, but I fully fell in love with the story and the characters. I highly recommend it to anyone who thinks this sounds remotely good. Seriously, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by reading it, I promise you.
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An absolutely pitch-perfect, cozy romance for the fall season. I adored this tale of magic, found family, and burgeoning love between a sunshine and a grump. Can't recommend enough for spooky season (or any time of year, really!)
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This is Practical Magic (the movie version) with a bit of T.J. Klune to it. Imagine Ian McKellan and his cute husband hire a witch to nanny their wild magical witch children. Mandanna takes on English nationalism and weaves it into a part of the experiences characters have with the magical and mortal world. If you like T.J. Klune, Terry Pratchett, or Travis Baldree i.e. you love cozy fantasy with just a bit of gentle romance and quirky magic, you would love this. It honestly is one of my absolute favorite things.
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This is a cozy fantasy with great writing, it was very whimsical which I appreciated. However I found myself not falling the plot because it never held my interest for long. I wasn’t invested in any of the characters.
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Mika Moon, the protagonist of Sangu Mandanna’s The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, was orphaned at a young age (as all witches are) and has grown up with the certainty that she will always be alone. Witches mustn’t congregate, lest they create a magical surge that attracts the attention of normal people, which “witches have discovered time and time again over the centuries is dangerous.” For the most part, Mika plays by the rules. Her one rebellion is the YouTube channel where she posts videos of real magic that she pretends is fake magic, but that’s exactly what gets her into trouble when she’s contacted to teach magic to a household of three (!!) very young witches. Their home, Nowhere House, belongs to a witch named Lillian who spends most of her time overseas and leaves the day-to-day operations of Nowhere House and its orphan witches to her staff: housekeeper Lucie, groundskeeper Ken and his actor husband Ian, and Jamie, the hot, grumpy librarian. Mika knows she can’t belong with them forever, but oh, how she wants to.

If you keep an eye—and for your sake I hope you don’t—on fearmongering leftist thinkpieces of the type that Michael Hobbes thrives on debunking, you’ve probably seen at least one op-ed about how kids (read: adults) these days just cut their family members out of their lives at the drop of a hat and without a backward glance. For minor offenses! What next! It’s a slippery slope! And it’s the internet’s fault, probably!

Emily St. James notes that the idealization of nuclear and biological family is too often predicated on obligation, or lack of choice. Common wisdom holds that you can be as mean to your sister as you want because she’s stuck with you. When you have no choice but to go to your family for help, they have no choice but to take you in. I find it horribly grim, this vision of family relationship as hostage crisis. When I was being trained as a suicide intervention counselor, we were taught not to say have to at all because it erases choice and agency. We do not have to invite the lech uncle to every holiday. We do not have to keep the damaging family secrets. We choose not to talk about Bruno.

Although nobody asked, I will take this opportunity to share my opinion that While You Were Sleeping is the best rom-com ever made, and the reason this is true is that Lucy falls in love—she says so!—not just with Bill Pullman, whose furniture business I don’t think is sustainable anyway, but with his big, loud, weird Catholic family. (This resonates with me because I myself come from a big, loud, weird Catholic family that everyone, correctly, falls in love with.) There’s a moment at the family Christmas celebration, to which Lucy has been invited after saving the family’s eldest son from death by train, when someone puts a Christmas present in Lucy’s hands. We never find out what the gift is, because Lucy never unwraps it; she just sits there holding it, letting the family’s boisterous chatter wash over her, delight and wonder written all over her face.

The defining features of a romance novel are these: the story is centrally focused on the progression of a romance, and the characters who are having the romance end up happily partnered. While these requirements too often lead the genre to imply (or state outright) that the only type of love that matters is romantic love accompanied by sexual attraction, the genre at its best also celebrates the bonds of family and community, and the ability of its characters to find happiness and fulfillment within those contexts too.

Mika has grown up under the devastating weight of family secrecy and control. Primrose, the witch who raised her after her parents died, surrendered the bulk of her care to a series of nannies, all of whom were summarily dismissed and magically memory-wiped by Primrose when they had caught wind of what Mika could do. “They always knew I was different,” she confesses to Jamie, early in her stay at Nowhere House. “It took me years to work out how to behave like I was expected to.” It doesn’t occur to her—yet—that there was or could be an alternative to this rigidly enforced control, a version of her life in which she’s loved for who she is.

She answers the summons to Nowhere House because of the desperation she can sense in the message from Ian. She’s prepared to be useful, but not to be wanted. Her version of Lucy tenderly cradling a Christmas gift comes when Mika asks the children’s guardians to weigh in on the safety of taking the oldest girl, Rosetta, into town to visit a bookshop. Ken is mildly opposed, while Lucie and Ian are in favor, and our hot librarian Jamie is inclined to say absolutely not. Ian points out that if Mika had raised the question after her two-week trial period had concluded, she’d have been able to break the tie with a vote of her own—a point that Mika has obviously never considered.

    Mika continued to look stunned, like it had never occurred to her that she might be considered part of something, and Jamie found he violently hated it. He was livid that she was so surprised by such a simple gesture. Hadn’t she ever been treated as anything but an outsider?

The answer is no, she hasn’t. As we learn later in the book, the best she’s ever been able to expect from those closest to her has been the desire to use her powers for their own benefit. She reluctantly discloses the existence of a single serious ex-boyfriend, who learned that she was a witch and then began making demands. Cash bewitched out of an ATM machine. Answers magically provided to him during exams. Nor, she admits, was it the first time. When the nannies of her childhood learned what she could do, “I became something that could be used.”

As she gradually comes to learn from the denizens of Nowhere House, this isn’t the most a person can hope for—even a witch. Jamie, Ian, Lucie, and Ken, to say nothing of the girls, care about Mika. They include her and make space for her. She comes to Nowhere House with her own greenhouse, and she gardens with Ken. Jamie brings whiskey upstairs to her and helps with her spellwork. When she’s ill from a magical backlash, they take it in turns to sit by her bedside in case she wakes up and needs anything. It’s Mika’s first real experience of the quotidian miracle of being loved.

Particularly when a character comes to a chosen family from a deeply dysfunctional family of origin, there’s an inclination to idealize the new. Much as romance novel heroes are prone to knowing exactly what sorts of sex things their partner will enjoy without having to ask or making mistakes or sitting on the other person’s hair (shouts to Ruthie Knox, Courtney Milan, and Cecelia Grant for schooling me on the value of bad sex scenes in romance novels), fictional found families are prone to getting everything right on the first try. It’s a trap Mandanna doesn’t fall into, and indeed the third-act conflict of Irregular Witches arises between Mika and the whole family, rather than exclusively between herself and her love interest.

And it’s a serious one: She learns that Jamie, and Ian and Ken, and Lucie, have been lying to her all along. The girls’ witch guardian, Lillian, hasn’t gone unreachable on a long research trip to remote locations without cell services. She has died, and the four adults of Nowhere House are trying to keep that fact from her solicitor to ensure that they’ll retain custody of the girls, who have never known another home. It’s a shattering realization to Mika, as she looks back on every interaction she’s shared with them and sees ulterior motives where she had barely begun to allow herself to see trust. Heartbroken, she tells Jamie, “I can never know how much of it was real.”

There’s a remarkable power in realizing that you can choose the people with whom you share reciprocal relationships of care. When Mika makes the leap of faith to give Jamie and the others a second chance, she’s acting from a place of trust in the life she has built with them, rather than a place of fear that their failure of care for her will be repeated. We even see her begin to build a new relationship with Primrose, the witch who raised her, a choice she’s only able to make because her time at Nowhere House has taught her that she can be vulnerable enough to ask for what she needs, and strong enough to walk away from relationships with people who won’t meet her halfway.

The allure of found family is precisely that we are choose and are chosen by them. Mika does not have to go back to Jamie, Ken, Ian, and Lucie, any more than they have to take her back. They are not family by an accident of biology, or out of obligation to the dictates of a societal narrative. They’ll share interests and set boundaries and help one another when help is needed. To paraphrase the wonderful Gwendolyn Brooks, they are each other’s business, bound together by the choice to give and receive love.
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Sometimes a book comes along at just the right moment in my life and is everything I need and more than I hoped it would be. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches was was exactly that read for me this past fall. 

It is described on Goodreads as "a warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family—and a new love—changes the course of her life." It is the story of Mika Moon. She is part of secret society of witches with  very strict rules about not exposing their magic to outsiders. And they must remain separate from one another so as not to draw attention to themselves. They meet very rarely as a group, and then only to check in. Mika, who was orphaned as a child, keeps to the rules--somewhat. She has her own vlog, positing videos in which she pretends to be a witch. No one takes those too seriously, after all. That is until she receives a message from a stranger offering her a job as a nanny for three young witches. Taking a chance, Mika travels to Nowhere House, in a remote part of the country. She is not sure what to expect, but knows full well she is breaking every rule. There she meets the children, along with a retired actor, the estate's caretakers, and the grumpy librarian, who makes it clear he does not want her there. 

I liked Mika from the start. She's good hearted and independent minded, used to moving every few months to avoid getting too attached or close to anyone. When she gets the message from Ian, a retired actor now in his 80's, she is curious, but does not take it too seriously. She makes the drive out to Nowhere House fully anticipating to turn the job down. She does her best at first to deny the existence of magic, but it is clear early on that magic is not a well kept secret at Nowhere House. It was hard not to fall in love with all the residents of the house: Ian, of course, who  is witty and charming, and his husband, Ken, who has is a gifted gardener; the housekeeper Lucie who is inviting and kind; Jamie who has his own set of charm but in a rough sort of way, and who is very protective of the girls; and then there are the three young witches, all orphans themselves who had been taken in by their absent guardian. 

It's obvious the residents of Nowhere House are hiding something, but they are clear about one thing. They hope that Mika can teach the girls to control their magic in a short amount of time--at least before the guardian's lawyer arrives to pick up some papers. No one can find out they are witches, especially not the lawyer. Mika isn't sure she can manage it, but she reluctantly agrees to try. 

This novel is funny and sweet with a dash of romance and mystery thrown in. Jamie may not trust Mika at first, but the two realize early on they have to come to some sort of an arrangement, if only for the girls' sakes. The characters had interesting backstories, and I liked the authors approach to the diversity of backgrounds of those characters. I enjoyed the funny moments and situations the characters would sometimes get into. Mika, who longed so much for connection and yet pushed it away at every turn, comes to really care for the Nowhere residents. She needs them as much as they need her. 

When I first started reading The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches I was hoping for a novel that would leave me smiling--and I definitely got that. There were even some tears mixed in. This book has a lot of heart.
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If I could give this book 10 stars I would!

THE VERY SECRET SOCIETY OF IRREGULAR WITCHES was the absolute perfect read for Fall, and it gave me the found family, and magical story I was craving right now. It's a warm, uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family and a new love changes the course of her life.

I couldn't put this adorable book down, and I thought the author wrote such complex, relatable characters, that fully immersed myself into the pages while reading. While there were tender moments, and emotions of being orphaned, with a sense of not feeling like belonging, there were funny moments too, which really rounded the story out.

*many thanks to Berkley for the gifted copy for review
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The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches was an absolute delight to read. It firmly falls into the cozy fantasy genre. And honestly, reading this one feels a bit like a hug. I loved seeing how Mika upended things at Nowhere House, and how the characters all dealt with the changes. 

I know this review is short, but The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches has magic, found family, and a grumpy/sunshine romance - what more could you need? I’d recommend this one to anyone looking for an uplifting and fun fantasy novel (particularly those who liked The House in the Cerulean Sea)
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I simply loved this book. It was perfect read for the fall, and would be excellent one to pick up during October/spooky season.
Although The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is not a spooky book, it is still perfect to read for Halloween, as it’s protagonists are witches (and with witches comes magic).

I am actually glad books like this exist, because they do provide that Halloween mood to readers who aren’t into horrors and gory.

This book was just adorable. It was relaxing, witchy story that talked about family, friends and love, and what is the most important, the relationship one has with themselves.

The story follows Mika who takes a job to teach magic to three little children. There, in the Nowhere House, she finally learns how it feels to belong somewhere and what it’s like to have a family.

The story is written in third person following Mika’s POV, but there were also some parts that followed Jamie, the librarian.
As you can assume, Jamie is the love interest and when it comes to romance, this one include grumpy-sunshine trope.

I think the author pictured small circle (of people) vibes so well. It was so easy to get attached to all of the characters, main and the side ones. Holiday scenes in the story were like a warm hug from the author and her characters to us readers, that I appreciate the most.

I highly recommend it to everyone who’s looking for a warm, relaxing, witchy story.
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“It’s not always enough to go looking for the place we belong, sometimes we need to make that place.”

Mika is a witch. Witches tend to be loners, as too many in one place can draw unwanted attention. When the caretakers of Nowhere house reach out to Mika, begging for her to teach their three young witch charges, Mika knows it’s against the rules. But something is drawing her to the house and the girls, and though she only intends to stay for a short while, Nowhere house might just become her home and it’s occupants her chosen family.

This is going to be one of my shortest reviews ever because this is just the cutest little witchy book and there isn’t much to not love in this book. I loved our main character, Miku. I loved the way she interacted with the girls. The romance was cute though the spice was light. & honestly, I’m a sucker for lighter witchy reads.

I’m used to reading cozy mystery stories, but if there is a cozy fantasy romance genre than Sangu Mandanna totally knocked it out of the park. I wouldn’t mind for this one to turn into a series. Definitely recommend if you’re looking for something lighthearted and warm.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is out now! Huge thank you to Berkley Books for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion.  If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books.
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As cliche as it is to say, this book truly is a warm hug. I absolutely adored the relationships, the tone, and the balance between sweet and impactful. This is quintessential cozy fantasy, and I can't wait to read more from this author.
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To say I loved this book would be an understatement - it was amazing. It's been a long time since I couldn't put a book down and this one is it! I know she's not real but I wish Mika Moon was here and guiding me in life. I love how she breaks the rules and embraces diversity.
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This was a fun, quirky story filled with found family, romance, and magic. I really enjoyed getting lost in Mika's world and really wish this was part of a series. The romance was slow-burn, but with plenty of tension to keep you wanting more. The magic was really well plotted and described. I just wish there was more of Mika's potion-making, which seemed very interesting. The characters were fun and likable.
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The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a romance, fantasy, and paranormal story that also deals with found family and new beginnings. Mika Moon is a witch living an isolated life in Britain, knowing she needs to keep her magic hidden. It is important not to mingle with other witches, as their powers will intensify and draw attention to them. She is an orphan, raised by strangers and now living alone. She has an online account, where she performs magic and "pretends to be a witch". No one will take her seriously, will they? When an unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to "Nowhere House" to teach three young witches how to control their magic, she breaks all of the rules and goes. Once there, she becomes involved in the life of the three young witches, and several others, including Jamie, the handsome and scowling librarian of Nowhere House who would do anything to protect the children. He doesn't want Mika there, but he finds her interesting and appealing.

This is a fun story, but it is also sad when you look at the underlying story of sadness, being orphaned at a young age, not belonging anywhere, and being afraid to be yourself. There was also humor, especially when dealing with the young witches, who do not have control over their powers. The characters in this story are delightful. I loved them all, with all their flaws, and foibles, especially the three girls. Eight-year-old Terracotta added a lot of humor as she plotted Mika's demise. Jamie and Mika had chemistry and as the story progressed, he thaws toward her and they begin to care very much about each other, actually having an intimate relationship. There are some issues along the way with a lawyer trying to find his missing client, but all in all, this is a fun read about found family and some romance, all wrapped up in a fantasy/paranormal story, that I recommend.
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