Book Review: The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais #witchesmoonshynemanor @BiancaM_author @Harper360UK @RandomTTours

Synopsis

A coven of modern-day witches. A magical heist-gone-wrong. A looming threat.

Summoned by an alarm, five octogenarian witches gather around Ursula when danger is revealed to her in a vision. An angry mob of townsmen is advancing with a wrecking ball, determined to demolish Moonshyne Manor and Distillery. All eyes turn to Queenie—as the witch in charge, it’s her job to reassure them—but she confesses they’ve fallen far behind on their mortgage payments and property taxes. Queenie has been counting on Ruby’s return in two days to fix everything. Ruby is the only one who knows where the treasure is hidden, those valuable artifacts stolen 33 years ago on the night when everything went horribly wrong. Why didn’t clairvoyant Ursula see this coming sooner? Wasn’t Ivy supposed to be working her botanical magic to keep the townsmen in a state of perpetual drugged calm, all while Jezebel quelled revolts through seductive bewitchment?

The mob is only the start of the witches’ troubles. Brad Gedney, a distant cousin of Ivy, is hellbent on avenging his family for the theft of a legacy that was rightfully his. In an act of desperation, Queenie makes a bargain with an evil far more powerful than anything they’ve ever faced. And things take a turn for the worse when Ruby’s homecoming reveals a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

In a race against time, the women have nine days to save their home and business. The witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but fear their aging powers are no match against increasingly malicious threats. Thankfully, they get a bit of extra help from Persephone, a feisty TikToker eager to smash the patriarchy. As the deadline approaches, fractures among the sisterhood are revealed, and long-held secrets are exposed, culminating in a fiery confrontation with their enemies.

Funny, tender, and uplifting, THE WITCHES OF MOONSHYNE MANOR explores the formidable power that can be discovered in aging, found family, and unlikely friendships. Marais’ true power is her clever prose that offers as much laughter as insight, delving deeply into feminism, identity, and power dynamics while stirring up intrigue and drama through secrets, lies and sex. Both heartbreaking and heart-mending, it will make you wonder: why were we taught to fear the witches, and not the men who burned them? Above all, it will make you grateful for the amazing women in your life.

My Review

Moonshyne Manor is the home of witches Ursula, Jezebel, Ivy, Tabitha and Queenie who also run a distillery. They each have their own unique gift and although they have different personalities they are bound to each other by sisterhood and love. However, Moonshyne Manor is under threat when a mob turns up threatening to demolish their home and Queenie discloses that they have fallen behind on the mortgage payments. However, they hope that things will sort themselves out when Ruby who has been away for thirty three years returns. But Ruby’s return isn’t what they hoped it would be. The sisters must now save their home with the help of a newcomer and outsider Persephone and revisit the magical heist that went wrong many years ago.

When I first started reading I wasn’t sure about this book but things became clearer as the book progressed. What we know from the beginning is that the Manor is under threat of being demolished because there are mortgage payments outstanding. Persephone, who is much younger than the sisters appears and wants to help them secure their home. This is the first time an outsider has been allowed into the inner circle but there is something about Persephone that is different At the same time Ruby is due to return home. From the beginning there is a lot of mystery surrounding Ruby, where she has been and why she has been gone for so long. The imminent arrival of Ruby also raises mixed feelings with the sisters, some believe she is the answer to all their problems and some are a little uncertain about her return. The reason for Ruby’s absence becomes clear as the story unfolds as it is connected to a heist many years ago when the sisters were trying to recover a magical artefact. The consequences of the heist not only affected Ruby but also the sisters immensely. It’s clear from the outset that the men in the town have had their eye on Moonshyne Manor for many years. Rather than let its inhabitants live in peace their one goal is to get their hands on it and raise it to the ground.

My favourite thing about the book was the characters. The sisters were colourful, different, eccentric, smart and had a combination of characteristics. However, the one thing that bound them together was the idea of family and sisterhood. It’s clear that they are really protective of each other and truly care for each other. They’re not keen on outsiders until Persephone comes along and they realise that there is room in their inner circle for another. When I was reading the storyline I was getting Practical Magic and Witches of Eastwick vibes with a hint of witchy Golden Girls. I loved the snippets from The Moonshyne Manor Grimoire that included spells and recipes.

If you’re a fan of books that include witches, magic, sisterhood and feminism then this is a book you’ll enjoy.

Author Bio

Bianca Marais is the author of the beloved Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh (Putnam, 2017 and 2019). She teaches at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies where she was awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award for Creative Writing in 2021. A believer in the power of storytelling in advancing social justice, Marais runs the Eunice Ngogodo Own Voices Initiative to empower young Black women in Africa to write and publish their own stories, and is constantly fundraising to assist grandmothers in Soweto with caring for children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. In 2020, Marais started the popular podcast, The Shit No One Tells You About Writing, which is aimed at helping emerging writers become published.

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