Review: The Witches of Cambridge by Menna van Praag

I have been a fan of Menna van Praag’s writing for some time now! I’ve read all of her books and they always get me in the mood for spring reading.

Van Praag’s novels are always full of whimsical magic, romance, and interesting women characters.

One of my favorites is The House at the End of Hope Street…..I love how she incorporates unique women lead characters and let’s the reader discover them in an interesting world/story of her creation.

Her latest novel, The Witches of Cambridge, is similar to her other novels…..a charming, magical read full of interesting characters, women, and romance!

Witch, Amandine Bisset, has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It’s a secret she can share only with her friends—all professors, all witches—when they gather for the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft. Amandine treasures these meetings but lately senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa’s power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up. Unfortunately, Noa regards her gift as a curse. So when a seductive artist claims he can cure her, Noa jumps at the chance, no matter the cost.

Noa’s not the only witch who’s in over her head. Mathematics professor Kat has a serious case of unrequited love but refuses to cast spells to win anyone’s heart. Kat’s sister, Cosima, is not above using magic to get what she wants, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on Kat’s crush, she conjures up a dangerous love triangle.

As romance and longing swirl through every picturesque side street, the witches of Cambridge find their lives unexpectedly upended and changed in ways sometimes extraordinary, sometimes heartbreaking, but always enchanting.

In her other novels, van Praag’s use of magic is always kind of subtle which to me is kind of her ‘trademark’….so I was interested to see if she incorporated magic more boldly in a novel so clearly about witches. While the magical realism elements were more obvious in this book than some of her others, it was still subtle and I would say still falls under the category of magical realism rather than ‘fantasy’ or ‘paranormal lit’ etc. What I loved about this was the witches angel wasn’t overly done, the witch magic itself wasn’t all crazy…it was mostly a story about women who just happened to be witches, which really kept with her subtle magic trademark in my opinion.

I could relate to many of the characters even though they were witches, their stories and struggles were real and relate-able for audiences. Each woman had a ‘real world’ type problem that even their magic couldn’t solve which I think is why I loved each of the women characters for different reasons.

This book was well written and I personally think, one of her best novels yet! I loved The Dress Shop of Dream and The House at the End of Hope Street but this novel struck me in a way that the others didn’t and I think it’s because the characters were all so engaging and interesting. I fell in love with their stories, they made me want to keep reading!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Witches of Cambridge by Meena van Praag

  • ebook, 320 pages
    Expected publication: February 9th 2016 by Ballantine Books
    ISBN 0804179018 (ISBN13: 9780804179010)
    Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review.

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5

Genre: Magical realism, witch lit

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