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ALC Review: The Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst

Release date:  9 July 2024

Rating:  4.5/5

Narration:  Caitlin Davies

Narration rating:  5/5

Book Boxes/SE’s:  1st Print Run SE (all retailers), OwlCrate July Adult

Synopsis:  The Spellshop is Sarah Beth Durst’s romantasy debut–a lush cottagecore tale full of stolen spellbooks, unexpected friendships, sweet jams, and even sweeter love.


Kiela has always had trouble dealing with people. Thankfully, as a librarian at the Great Library of Alyssium, she and her assistant, Caz—a magically sentient spider plant—have spent the last decade sequestered among the empire’s most precious spellbooks, preserving their magic for the city’s elite.


When a revolution begins and the library goes up in flames, she and Caz flee with all the spellbooks they can carry and head to a remote island Kiela never thought she’d see again: her childhood home. Taking refuge there, Kiela discovers, much to her dismay, a nosy—and very handsome—neighbor who can’t take a hint and keeps showing up day after day to make sure she’s fed and to help fix up her new home.


In need of income, Kiela identifies something that even the bakery in town doesn’t have: jam. With the help of an old recipe book her parents left her and a bit of illegal magic, her cottage garden is soon covered in ripe berries.


But magic can do more than make life a little sweeter, so Kiela risks the consequences of using unsanctioned spells and opens the island’s first-ever and much needed secret spellshop.


Like a Hallmark rom-com full of mythical creatures and fueled by cinnamon rolls and magic, The Spellshop will heal your heart and feed your soul.

 

Review


The amount of whimsy Durst overwhelms readers with in this book borders on ridiculousness.  If you’re looking for the literary equivalent of the softest, fluffiest blanket you can find, pick this one up.  I haven’t read too many cozy fantasies, and if they’re for the most part remotely like this one as far as the vibe, I’ll be sure to add more to my TBR.  


The Spellshop doesn’t start off cozy; we see Kiela and Caz as they are escaping a burning library, and Caz is a TALKING PLANT!  The dynamic of friendship between these two right off the bat set the perfect stage of comfort for the rest of the novel.  Readers absolutely know right off the bat they can enjoy these two friends and whatever happens in the novel will definitely not come between them or get them down.


The book is lightly romanced, wonderfully so, and has no on-page sexual descriptions.  No-spice readers will love this one, for sure.  Kiela’s very handsome, beefy neighbor is a huge cinnamon roll and the perfect book boyfriend for anyone who loves a strong, male love interest with a very sensitive side and a heart for animals and helping others.


I absolutely loved this story’s atmosphere and found family.  I could definitely relate to Kiera’s difficulty fitting in a town full of mainly locals who absolutely hate outsiders, no matter where they’re from or what they’re doing.  It was nice to see a playing out of what it might look like if (even though Kiela is technically not an outsider) people were accepted no matter where they were born and welcomed into the local community.


Caitlin Davies did a fantastic job narrating the story.  The voice matched the vibe of the story perfectly—very cozy, lulling, and comforting.  


Overall, 5/5 for the narration and 4.5/5 for the story.  I liked the relaxing, cozy vibe—though the end was a bit hectic compared to the rest of the pace of the book.  Highly recommend this one for reading.


My thanks to Macmillan Audio for the ALC, for which I willingly give my own, honest opinion.


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