Slouch Witch – Helen Harper (Review)

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Ivy is a talented witch. Talented, but extremely lazy. So much so that she’s not really a practicing witch at all; instead, she’s a taxi driver who happens to do magic occasionally. Doing magic professionally would involve working with the Order, and their stuffed-shirt early-morning way of doing things is definitely not to Ivy’s taste.

When Ivy ends up magically bound to work with Nicholas Winter, the most stuffed-shirt of all the Order witches, she is less than thrilled. Tracking down a stolen scepter involves danger, diplomacy, and waking up before dawn, three things she would rather not be involved with. But with the binding in place, she doesn’t have a choice. She has to either find a way to break the powerfully magical bond, or to work with the irritating and irritatingly handsome Winter.

I didn’t initially expect to like this book. I got it because I am magnetically drawn to urban fantasy, but lazy protagonists tend to annoy me. If I had magic, I would spend all of my time playing with it, not whinging about effort. Ivy doesn’t annoy me. She uses her magic, even experiments with it, and only whinges about terrible things, like jogging or work. She’s a fierce, irreverent, and even funny protagonist. Most of all, she’s understandable – her motivations make complete sense, and her attitude towards the Order and its protocols is one I agree with.

The book is first person through Ivy’s eyes. She has a very distinctive narrative voice that I find I rather like. It’s funny, it’s real, it’s human. I probably would find Ivy exhausting if I met her in real life, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did meet her, and she’s an interesting head to ride along in.

The plot is complicated but reasonable, dropping Ivy’s backstory in without just overloading you with information. The romance – such as it is – is believable and  amusing. It’s not so much a “will they/won’t they” as a “when will they”, but seeing the pair grapple with exasperation and attraction as they reluctantly work together does not get old.

At its heart, this is a buddy cop story about two unlikely allies, with fantasy elements. Magic in Slouch Witch falls into the general “witchcraft” pattern, but Harper has a way of taking old concepts and rearranging them in a new way. The general world/society is convincing and detailed without being ponderous.

I don’t really have much to criticise about Slouch Witch at the moment, which I know is rather unlike me. I just enjoyed this one.  It was exactly what I was looking for at the time – fresh, satisfying, entertaining. It’s got a decent plot and a likable cast. It is the first book in a series, and I’m not really sure how well it will scale up, but I did like this particular book, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a light urban fantasy. Slouch Witch is a crime novel, a fantasy novel and a romance novel, but above all else, it’s just fun to read.

Buy it here.

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