Book Review: The Language of Spells by Sarah Painter

The Language of SpellsI received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

I must admit I was intrigued by the title, and what the content could be when looking at this book, as I have an interest in the esoteric anyway.  Never mind stories that contain even a hint of magic, so I was excited to get reading.  Also, this is the author’s début book – so obviously I’d never read her work before.

From the very start I was pulled into the story – a hint of a dark past, an inheritance from Great Aunt Iris, and a small (cosy?) English village that our heroine goes back to after many years.  A great time to read it I think – as the seasons are going from Autumn to Winter in the book as they are as I read it.  Not to mention CAM.  Yes, we’ll come back to him…

Gwen Harper is from a family of women who most will refer to as witches.  Growing up with a sister and a single-mum, life wasn’t easy and they moved around a lot.  Gloria, the girls’ mum did not use her magic wisely – or at least for good – and when Gwen shows signs of having a gift for finding things, she uses it to full account making money from people who want to use it as a service – and this is from a child.  Needless to say, Gwen and her mum are not particularly close as we come into the story – and neither is Gwen with her sister Ruby, who resents any talk of magic.  Also introduced is her niece Katie, who will prove to hold a pivotal role in the story.

Talking of dark pasts, Gwen also left a past love back in Pendleford – Cam Laing, and boy is he gorgeous – even if he does come across initially as having a broom inserted!  Cam has remained in the village to become a lawyer in the wake of his father’s death, and is angry that Gwen left him without a proper explanation.  I won’t go into why Gwen left the village many years before as it will contain spoilers, but let’s just say it ties into the magic that runs throughout the whole book.

Gwen won’t be able to stay at her new house in Pendleford without confronting the past however.  There are people who believe in her family’s magic in a good way and in a bad way.  This story is also about family and friends relationships, and their complications.  She will need to make choices about her past and future and whether she is ready to leave her transient lifestyle behind and settle.  The story also has a line of suspense running through it when Gwen has to deal with someone who is trying to scare her into leaving.

It is also such a fun book.  The character of Gwen has such heart and courage – she is witty and strong – and far more than the girl that left the village.  I think part of the reason I enjoyed the book so much is that we spend almost all of it entirely with her, and end up routing for the future that she desires.  I really connected with her, and also laughed along with her.  And who could not like Cat!

I really loved this book – and it is not often I say this, really.  An amazing début, I was sucked in so much I could hardly put it down and finished it in about a day I think.  I also couldn’t stop talking about it!  That is it’s charm and the skill of the writer, you can’t quite put your finger on what it is…

I hope to read more in the future by this author.

A copy of this review can also be found on my Goodreads page.

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