Meet Astral Projector of The Plague Tree Coven, the famous witching family. Astral’s grandmother ran the coven before she passed away. Sadly, Astral has very little of the famed Projector family magic and is really only good at baking. But that’s okay since she is a fireside witch and baking, cooking and making people feel welcome is as encoded in their DNA as magic.
But with covens come politics and when the head of the coven sends Astral on a mission to find out what has happened to all the coven’s money she leaves Astral with few clues, even less magic and no chance at all to succeed.
Astral is prepared to solve the mystery of the missing money but doesn’t expect her alluring, dark and brooding boss, Abby Black, nor does she expect to uncover something quite as sinister as she does.
With loyal friends, a ridiculously grumpy familiar and a sexy new boss, you just know Astral is in for a hell of a ride.
I enjoyed Astral. She was as sweet as her cakes and I liked how smart she was too.
Abby Black was dark and mysterious, but that makes a lot of sense when we discover who she really is.
Because this is a very one sided point of view book we never really know what’s going on until Astral discovers what’s going on. That means that the supporting characters can feel flat sometimes.
The Writing Style
I like the way McKnight writes. The book was entertaining, a lot happened and it kept me interested throughout. It’s a large book for lesfic at just under 300 pages and I enjoyed all of it.
My favourite part was the world building. It was a blast to get into the witching world and discover the joy of a small witch village.
Don’t expect romance. Don’t even expect a sub plot of romance. Expect a couple of eye batting flirtations and nothing else or you will be disappointed.
I am not a huge fan of books that are not complete stories. I am okay with books that leave one or two larger things at play for the series but they have complete stories contained in each book. This one felt a little like a prequel. Something to set the scene and in the next book we get the complete story. So I was left a little frustrated at the end feeling like nothing was actually answered.
If there is one thing you can expect from a Gill McKnight book it is that you have no idea what to expect. McKnight is the kind of author who follows her muse and writes without any kind of formula.
That is particularly evident in this book. I spent a lot of time expecting something specific to happen and instead something really different happened.
This is a difficult book to review because it feels like chapter one in a series rather than a complete book. As a stand alone it doesn’t work well because there are so many loose ends, but as part of a series it will be a fun to dig your teeth into.
For those folks who love to really get into a long series, I suspect this will be exactly your cup of tea.
Excerpt from Borage by Gill McKnight
Astral had long since accepted that she qualified for Circle membership by virtue of her birthright rather than her skill set and she would never hold a coven office. Secretly, she was glad because The Plague Tree Coven had changed since Grandma Lettice had passed on. It was not a happy place anymore, and Astral grew more alarmed each gathering at the direction in which Magdalene was taking it.
She pushed the bitterness from her mind, smoothing it with the belief that she was simply having trouble adjusting to Magdalene’s ways—which were meagre gruel after the rich banquet of her grandmother’s legacy. And if Dulcie was right, she wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Dulcie was a capable, respected career witch, who kept her finger on the collective pulse. She had served both Grandma Lettice and now Magdalene, and according to her, there were discreet rumblings about the new High Priestess. Though many witches—undeserving ones, in Astral’s opinion—now enjoyed a new level of authority under Magdalene’s sponsorship. Meanwhile, the coven was quietly splitting down the middle.
“Sisters,” Magdalene announced, “I call to order this extraordinary gathering of The Plague Tree Coven. We have come together this evening to concentrate exclusively on some unsettling news. Old Mother Worriwort, as our all-seeing crone, please report on the current situation.”
Old Mother Worriwort stepped forward, her rheumatic hip giving an awkward, lopsided hitch to her step, and her jaw was set hard against the pain. Astral instinctively reached out to help her before a sharp glance from Magdalene had her drawing back. Under Magdalene’s ministry, it would be improper to touch an elder within the circle, even to aid her.
“Daughters dear,” Old Mother Worriwort began, “as you know, I monitor our stock portfolio daily, and I have begun to notice an alarming trend. We are slowly but steadily losing money.”
There came a muted gasp from all those present. This was unheard of. Coven stocks and shares were magically protected so covens never lost money on the stock exchange. The moon and stars may as well tumble from the sky. It simply didn’t happen. A low murmur of disbelief increased in volume as alarm rang through the Circle.
“Are you sure?”
“How can that be?”
“But aren’t we protected?”
“Sisters.” Magdalene raised a hand for order. “I’m afraid it is true. Old Mother Worriwort immediately cast a divination spell. The results were conclusive and very alarming. I’m afraid we have critters.”
A new round of devastation ensued. “Critters!”
“And they’re after our money?”
“They’ll ruin us.”
“And suck out our magic power.”
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The Plague Tree Coven
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781947253438
- Publisher: Dirt Road Books
- Gill McKnight Online
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