4 out of 4 stars
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The Very Swift Witches by Stormy Summers is primarily a feel-good comedy set in the small town of Claxton. After her husband leaves her, Katie is forced to move back to her parents' farm with her two children. Her life is changed drastically when three witches from 1712 suddenly appear at her doorstep. She decides to take them in, and they quickly grow to be a part of the family. The witches help Katie set up a grocery store, and their magic causes a great deal of excitement and adventure for Katie and the people of Claxton.
Right off the bat, I would be remiss not to mention the wonderfully vivid main characters. The witches consist of Annalee, an apprentice in her early teens, Mary, a romance-minded widow, and Emma, an older woman who is an extremely practiced witch. Each of them has their own ambitions, flaws, and secrets, all of which are slowly revealed throughout the course of the book. Katie, too, is a well-rounded character. Because of her empathetic nature, it doesn't feel forced that she took in the witches, and her struggle with overcoming the mistakes of her past while trying to take care of her family is quite relatable for those of us who have children.
The plot itself is remarkably well-paced and thorough. Many events do revolve around coincidences, but they are always explained thoroughly and never take agency away from the characters - if anything, they provide more difficult situations for them to overcome. The narrator has a unique voice that is engaging without getting in the way of the story, despite their mildly annoying tendency to refer to most of the conflicts as "Unavoidable Disasters." While the premise is incredibly wild, it's still believable due to the perfect combination of thorough research and personal experience on the part of the author.
If there's any significant flaw with this book, it's that the male love interests are usually relegated to the sidelines. Despite the number of stories that do this to female love interests, I still feel like it's a shame that their goals and fears were hardly explored. This would make the book's romantic relationships, particularly Katie's, feel much more compelling. The romantic themes are overshadowed by the themes of family, though, so this isn't too egregious. There are a few other rough spots, too, like when Katie has a pointless internal monologue that lasts multiple pages, or the handful of grammatical errors that I could find. However, these are minor and don't impede the overall flow of the book.
The Very Swift Witches is certainly one of the most memorable books I've read in a while. Though it does have a few flaws, I still rate it 4 out of 4 stars for its incredible execution of a very unusual concept, and Stormy Summers is one of the few self-published authors whose work I will be actively following from now on. For adults fond of small-town life, particularly mothers, this is a must-read - and I don't use that term lightly! I doubt younger audiences will be engaged with this book, though, and there are some mild dark and sexual themes that they probably shouldn't be exposed to, anyway.
The Very Swift Witches
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