Book Review and Blog Tour: The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais

  • Title: The Witches of Moonshyne Manor
  • Author: Bianca Marais
  • On sale: August 23, 2022
  • Genre: Fiction/Magical Realism

Buy links:

About the book:

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

Five octogenarian witches gather as an angry mob threatens to demolish Moonshyne Manor. All eyes turn to the witch in charge, Queenie, who confesses they’ve fallen far behind on their mortgage payments. Still, there’s hope, since the imminent return of Ruby—one of the sisterhood who’s been gone for thirty-three years—will surely be their salvation.

But the mob is only the start of their troubles. One man is hellbent on avenging his family for the theft of a legacy he claims was rightfully his. In an act of desperation, Queenie makes a bargain with an evil far more powerful than anything they’ve ever faced. Then things take a turn for the worse when Ruby’s homecoming reveals a seemingly insurmountable obstacle instead of the solution to all their problems.

The witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but their aging powers are no match for increasingly malicious threats. Thankfully, they get a bit of help from Persephone, a feisty TikToker eager to smash the patriarchy. As the deadline to save the manor 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 novel explores the formidable power that can be discovered in aging, found family and unlikely friendships. Marais’ clever prose 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. Heartbreaking and heart-mending, it will make you grateful for the amazing women in your life.

My review:

I made it! Happy book birthday to Bianca Marais!

The witches of Moonshyne Manor are getting up in years. They may not have quite the zip and sass they had when they were younger. Their magic may not be as strong as once it was. But when the men of Critchley Hackle – the same men who’ve been enjoying the fruits of the witches’ labor in the form of liquor from the Moonshyne Manor Distillery – come as an angry mob to take the Manor away from the witches, they aren’t going to take that lying down.

Sure, they’re behind on their mortgage payments. A lot behind. But Queenie, the leader of the coven, has a plan. All they have to do is find a magical artifact that’s been lost for decades before Charon comes to collect it. They give him the artifact, he gives them a pile of cash sufficient to get their mortgage caught up. No problem. But when it becomes clear that Ruby – who’s been away from the coven for decades and who was their last, best hope for finding the missing artifact – is in no shape to help them find what’s been lost, things are looking bleak.

This is a delightful read! The “sisters” of Moonshyne Manor are a found family, not a family created by birth. Bianca Marais introduces us to them and unveils each of their personalities through current events and flashbacks. Each sister has her own magical style, as well as her own secret that has been kept for many years. They’ve got to use all resources at their disposal to have a chance of saving their home. Will they have to reveal their secrets? And will those secrets tear their family apart even if they save their home?

You might think a book with a bunch of elderly heroines isn’t your jam. Enter Persephone. Persephone is the precocious teenage daughter of the town’s mayor (you know, the mayor who’s heavily invested in the witches losing their home so his big development can move forward). She shows up determined to help the witches smash the patriarchy, and she’ll use every tool at her disposal to do it, including a TikTok livestream. I love her and her aging greyhound, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There are some hilarious moments as young and old try to bridge the technological and cultural gaps, and they manage pretty well.

Even with the flashbacks, I found the story pretty easy to follow. It took me a bit getting into it, but once I did, it was hard to put down. The heist scenes are hilarious and nail-bitingly stressful all at the same time. I waited with bated breath to see how the revealing of each secret would affect the group. And there were some tense moments reading to see if the sisters would be able to keep their deal with the devil and save their home from the bank. It all wrapped up pretty neatly (a little too neatly, maybe?), but the big push to the reveal was a lot of fun.

There are some instances of nudity and some intimate situations. If those aren’t your jam, this might not be the book for you. They weren’t dealbreakers for me. Mayhem, skullduggery, a generations-old grudge, a quest to find what was lost, secrets kept and revealed, found family, and the healing, redeeming power of sisterhood. All these things combine to make it a solid four-star read for me. I’d like to read some of Marais’ other works now!

About the author:

Bianca Marais cohosts the popular podcast The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing, aimed at emerging writers. She was named the winner of the Excellence in Teaching Award for Creative Writing at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies in 2021. She is the author of two novels, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh, as well as the Audible Original The Prynne Viper. She lives in Toronto with her husband and fur babies.

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