Modern fantasy romance breezes on to mainstream bookshelves with a sassy debut novel from Sarah Hawley, ‘A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon’.
Haphazard and well-meaning witch Mariel Spark is a bit chaotic with her spells, much to the chagrin of her spellbinding legacy family. All she really wants to do is study her SoD (Sorcery Doctorate; wonderful wordsmithing) in Magical Herbology, which domineering mother Diantha Spark simply won’t allow until her daughter has control over her magic. Think ‘The Worst Witch’, grown up, with ‘Harry Potter’s awful Dolores Umbridge as her Mum.
In the first few chapters I did struggle with the world building; character names that don’t easily trip off the tongue (particularly best friend Themmie-short-for-Themmaline-Tibayon) and modern life (Themmie’s a social media influencer on Pixtagram) edged in to essentially a beautifully created world, with a core message of caring for the environment at its heart. Marial’s skills in the plant world are brilliantly written, as nature wrestles with family and her supports her self-belief.
However, once demon Ozroth the Ruthless is mistakenly conjured up in Mariel’s kitchen, at the end of chapter one, and you see just how awful her family is (and the impact they have on Mariel) the book quickly becomes a page-turner. The chemistry between Oz and Mariel is as magical as its later spicy, as he tries to suss out how she’ll bargain her soul away and she keeps feeding the legendary demon, no matter how much he annoys her.
And we all want a bestie like Calladia and her intolerance for, well, any demon with dodgy intentions. The milkshake gathering scenes between the three friends, usually needing to discuss fake boyfriend Oz, made me want to call up my friends for a sweet dairy catch-up; imagine a milk shake place as a venue for a book club? I can’t wait to see how she deals with Oz’s boss in the second book.
Sarah Hawley is the host of the ‘Wicked Wallflowers Club’ podcast and has an MA in Archaeology. The paperback of ‘A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon’ is available to buy through publisher Gollancz, part of the Orion Publishing Group.
Publisher: Gollancz Release date: 9th March 2023 Buy ‘A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon’ now
This post contains an affiliate link. Purchases made through the link may result in Entertainment Focus making a commission.