My Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Age Category: New Adult
Type of romance: FF
Laurel Windflower is a witch from a family of magic workers – but her own life is going nowhere. Living in the damp, sunless side of Aro Valley, she works in a café, unable to produce anything more powerful than the most basic herbal potions. Until, one winter morning, Marigold Nightfield knocks on her door. Marigold is a scientist, but she knows plenty about magic. There are strange things happening in her house, and her future discoveries require careful negotiation with monsters. Laurel can’t walk away from a mystery – and she can’t walk away from Marigold either. But what lies ahead could reveal all of her shortcomings to the woman she’s trying to impress… or uncover the true nature of her power.
I picked up Succulents and Spells recently as it caught my attention. I read the prequel story first and was a bit confused when I started reading this one as it takes place quite a bit later when Laurel is no longer at university. It took a bit of time to adjust to that. I really wanted to like this book more, but there was just something missing and I never got fully pulled into the story.
Let’s start with what I liked. The slice of life style story with low stakes was exactly the type of read I like. The New Zealand setting was nice too, even though the location wasn’t a big part of the story. I liked the interesting world building and story surrounding the monsters, witches and how there were different types of witches and powers. I liked reading about Laurel’s succulents, although there wasn’t as much of that as I had expected. And I thought Laurel’s struggle to figure out what she wanted out of life and what type of witch she was made her feel relatable and real.
So lots of interesting elements and somehow the book just didn’t keep my attention. The writing style felt just a tad off, the pacing not quite right at times and that indefinable something was missing to make it a smooth read for me. I wasn’t quite sure where the plot was going for parts of the book, just like with the prequel novella. Some parts felt a bit rushed or lacking depth and then later on other scenes felt almost stretched out in comparison or there was a surprising amount of depth in Laurel’s reflections in the later part of the book. The romance builds slowly, but then sort of jumps forward toward the end. And despite that I am still kinda curious about how the series continues.
To summarize: This book had a lot of interesting parts, but something was missing to fully capture my attention. I liked the slice of life vibe of the story. As well as the unique world building surrounding the witches, monsters and their powers. Laurel was an interesting main character and felt relatable and real. There just was something missing for me. Something about the writing style and pacing felt a bit off in places, I wasn’t quite sure where the story was going and some parts felt a bit rushed and lacked depth. While other parts slowed down and had more depth. The romance builds slowly and then jumped ahead. Lots of interesting parts, but something was missing for me, I am curious about the rest of the series and might pick up book 2 at some point.