Publisher: Self Published
Publishing Date: Out now on Thea Harrison’s website. On other platforms 29th of April.
Reviewed by: Marlene and Has
How did we get the ARC: From the author
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
Power can change a person…
For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.
Revenge can shape a person…
Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.
Danger can bring them together…
When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.
As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.
As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?
Has: American Witch is the first book of Thea Harrison’s brand new spin off series set in the world of the Elder Races. It is a bit of a departure of her previous books because it has such a different tone and feel to this world. It focuses mainly on the witches and their rivalries with each other and the covens they are a part of. This adds another rich layer that Harrison has created in this world, which primarily featured the shifters and fae and elves.
The book opens up to Molly, a housewife who discovers her husband of almost twenty years has cheated on her for the last time. Her sense of betrayal, anger and bitterness of so many lost years dedicated to an ass, erupts and unleashes dormant witch’s powers which she is unaware of having.
The scene when she emotionally confronts her husband in front of a house of their dinner party houseguests is memorable and I loved how she just unleashed her pent up emotions and frustrations at her husband. There is also a guest, Josiah a District Attorney, who is also a witch and recognises Molly’s newfound powers and is intrigued at abilities because her explosive rant at her deadbeat husband proves that she has untapped abilities that could be useful for him and for his own hidden agendas.
Marlene: I picked this up because I was hoping to get into one of this author’s series on the ground floor. I’ve heard so many great things about the Elder Races, but I’ve only read the first book. This turned out not to exactly be that ground floor, as it’s set in the same world as the Elder Races but not with any of the same cast or even in the same area or milieu – or, I gather from Has – tone. I don’t think you need to have read the Elder Races, and certainly not the entire thing, in order to get into this book.
That being said, this book starts out with a huge and absolutely marvelous bang. Molly has been the perfect wife to her ladder-climbing, career and socially ambitious attorney douchebag of a husband for twenty years. But she’s always known something was more than a bit wrong, and made sure that they had no kids.
So when she discovers that pair of lacy purple panties in their unmade bed, she has no hostages to fortune to keep her from letting the douchecanoe have exactly what’s coming to him. In front of a huge party of his bosses and colleagues and potential clients. That there’s just a bit “extra” in her public roasting of him surprises her – as well as one of those party guests, the new District Attorney Josiah Mason. Josiah recognizes exactly what that something extra is, and sees it (and Molly) putting a monkey wrench into his coven’s long-planned vengeance against the evil witch who took something or someone precious from each of them.
But her burgeoning, mostly erupting new power shines like a beacon, with the potential of bringing the wrong kind of attention to their city. She needs training, and Josiah can’t resist her – no matter how much he thinks he ought to. He’s also certain he can manipulate her into helping him with his own agenda.
That Molly disabuses him of that notion relatively quickly is just the beginning of both the romance and the power struggle between these two powerful characters.
But Molly is the American Witch of the title and it’s her story and her show all the way. And that’s awesome.
Has: This is really a book about Molly and her newfound sense of agency and desire to forge her own path of what she really wants in life. Her abilities in some ways are a metaphor of her breaking free from a stale, boring marriage that was filled with lies and discovering what she desires and how to manifest them. I loved that even though Molly was clueless about her abilities and the people around her knew more about magic and the paranormal world, she didn’t let them dictate what they thought she should do. Josiah’s offer to teach her was filled with pitfalls, and like what Marlene pointed out, she took control of that power imbalance. I loved that Molly was done with men and other authoritative figures in her life—her mother dictated what she should do. She was willing to learn about her magical powers but she was also steadfast to take control of the life she wanted to live.
There’s another standout scene when she has a final confrontation with her cheating ex husband which had me rooting for her and was richly satisfying to see and really sums up the main theme of this book. It was an empowering scene to read, and how she embraced her freedom to break free from the mental and emotional chains that has been put around her by her family and husband.
I also loved that Molly never stood down to a much more experienced Josiah, who soon realises that he has truly met his match. Although I did wish that their romance had a better set up, because it had a bit of a rocky start. I didn’t like Josiah’s introduction because his initial motives for Molly was to use her for his desire for revenge against another witch who destroyed his life and the other members of his coven who were all damaged in one way or another with this antagonist. But once the story developed and their relationship evolved much more, I slowly warmed up to his character.
Marlene: When Josiah first introduces himself to Molly as a potential teacher, he’s more than a bit of an asshat…but he gets better. Only after Molly slaps him and his ego down a few times – which he definitely needs.
There is a romance in American Witch between Molly and the new and mostly improved Josiah but the way that the power dynamic works in their relationship is a metaphor for what’s been wrong in Molly’s life until now, and what becomes right in it.
Molly has let too many negative people control her life. There’s certainly a perspective that her mother’s constant negging of Molly set her up to accept her soon-to-be-ex husband’s equally ego-destructive treatment of Molly.
That Molly righteously explodes at her husband is only part of her journey. That she sticks to her guns is what makes her a heroine. In spite of pressure from many sides, Molly doesn’t knuckle under and fall back into her old patterns. When the asshole comes after her, she takes him out with her righteous anger and her new-found magic. It’s and empowering scene for her and feels equally empowering for the reader.
That she never lets Josiah take control of their relationship, and that she finally gets out from under her mother’s bitterness are just part of what makes her journey so marvelous.
That being said, the romance between Josiah and Molly does get a bit shorted. It begins as enemies to lovers, but we don’t really “see” the turn. There’s more time and energy devoted to the terrific worldbuilding than there is to the relationship building.
And I wish, I wish, oh how I wish, that Molly hadn’t gotten pregnant in the middle of it. It throws a spanner into the works of Molly’s training, her potential relationship with Josiah AND both the legal shenanigans of her divorce, her ex’s financial shenanigans AND Josiah’s coven’s revenge plots.
IMHO it just wasn’t necessary. It’s also a trope/plot point I particularly hate. Romance does not have to middle or end in babies. On top of it, this seemed very much like a miracle pregnancy that just happens in way too unlikely a manner.
Howsomever, once Molly discovers she is pregnant, she OWNS that pregnancy as part of her self-empowerment journey in a way that isn’t often seen. I liked the way she took even more charge of her own life as well as that of her child. I just wish it hadn’t been part of the story and it nearly drove me to stop reading right there. ( I know that my strong reaction is coming out of my own headspace and that most people don’t have that same reaction.)
Has: The pregnancy plotline didn’t bother me as much. I think there were hints in the beginning of the book, that it was a regret Molly had although she knew deep down she didn’t want to have kids with her husband but with the wild events surrounding her and Josiah it could have been a deep rooted desire that comes to fruition even though they used pregnancy. However I do agree with you about the rushed nature of the romance. I really wished there was more time with that transition of Josiah the ass, to concerned and loving partner. It was pretty quick and I felt that a lot of that was glossed over. And I would have loved more about Molly’s training as a witch because it was so interesting, but a lot of things were happening. From Josiah’s attempt to crush his old enemy with his coven, Molly’s training and the events that later brings all of this together along with the romance development, a lot happens in this book.
I also felt the ending was a bit rushed and the big reveal and confrontation with the enemy was a bit rushed too and I was left wanting more. I think there was seeds being planted for a bigger confrontation and threads for future books but I was left confused whether this was going to be led by Josiah and Molly in a future book or carried on with the other coven members. In a lot of ways it felt like two books were compiled into one. But overall, I really enjoyed Molly’s journey and that was the strongest elements of the book. I can’t gush enough how much I loved her story of empowerment and throwing off her shackles to live the life she wanted.
Marlene: You’re right, Has, the whole thing felt rushed! There are three big stories packed into this one just-a-hair-over-average sized book. There’s the story of Molly’s journey of empowerment, including her training which got extremely short shrift. There’s the story of Joseph’s coven and their complicated and not entirely functional interrelationships as well as their longstanding pursuit of vengeance against the evil witch whose identity was a shade too obvious. AND there’s the romance between Molly and Josiah, which probably didn’t need to be an entire book of its own but definitely needed more space to develop. And for Josiah to do one hell of a lot of very necessary groveling.
I’d have liked American Witch a lot more if it had been a duology with the miracle pregnancy at the end, but that’s not the book we got. The parts of this book that were Molly’s journey to empowerment were terrific. I loved seeing her stick it to her ex and knocking Josiah down when he needed it. She was SO RIGHTEOUS!
But the rest of the elements were even more rushed than Molly’s training, and it didn’t feel like there was quite enough there to fully flesh those parts out. The big battle doesn’t resolve anything and feels a bit anticlimactic as a result.
So, after all that, I give American Witch by Thea Harrison a B. Molly’s marvelous journey carries the wave that high.
Has: I have to say that American Witch really brings out strong feelings for characters, and that’s a good sign. While I wished there was another book to flesh out the elements such as Molly’s training and a bit more development on the romance and the big bad at the end, this is such a stand out book about agency and gaining independence. I loved Molly’s character and I really hope we get another book or two dedicated to her because she was an amazing protagonist that still has a lot of promise and life. She didn’t take any prisoners and her desire to pave her own path was such a fantastic message to read and experience through her eyes.
I hope the next book in the series meets the heights that Molly has given me as a reader and while I had some niggles about the rushed nature of the romance and ending, I thought this was a great start to a brand new series.
I give American Witch by Thea Harrison a B+