Sunday, December 4, 2022

Hex Appeal - Kate Johnson

This arrived at work as a reading copy and I thought it looked terrible, but then I picked it up to mock, started reading, and got hooked. I'd been expecting something like the truly awful (in my opinion) The Ex Hex, or any number of similarly poor books which feel like they've been cynically written to cash in on current book tok trends. 

Hex Appeal isn't a great work of literature, but it reminded me of Practical Magic with a little bit of Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer thrown in, and it did it in a good way. I wasn't at all familiar with Kate Johnson before this, but a quick google tells me she's a reasonably well-established romance writer - she certainly spins a nic romance here. 

Essie, a witch with an affinity for winter is minding her own business one autumn day when she gets a whole lot of worrying portents from a passing taxi. Josh is an American fleeing a bad breakup and a change of career heart by renovating a house he's inherited in the village. 

Fate has some serious plans for them but they need to bind an ancient evil and bring in winter, before finding a way to live happily ever after. (Mild spoilers here) There are family complications, some time travel, Essie's trauma after accidentally freezing a part of her first boyfriend, and altogether a lot of things that wouldn't normally appeal to me very much but here it works.

I think this is undoubtedly because Johnson is good at what she does, and also because she's writing with a good deal of affection for a genre and hitting the right balance of respecting it whilst not taking it overly seriously - including the running joke about the frozen bits. The relationships between the different characters work well, and if some of them are only sketched in they still hold together really well. The time travel bit brings in some proper peril - who wants to be caught as a witch in 17th Century Essex? 

Altogether I'm repenting of my initial snobby dismissal; if you're in the mood for something light, funny, and feel good this is worth checking out. 

No comments:

Post a Comment