For a witch, Bel’s magical ability is limited. Sure, she can toss a mean hex at her sworn enemy Eli, the Witch Hunter next door. But major magic? That’s tricky. However, when a portal suddenly opens in her home, threatening her enchanted hometown along with everyone she loves, she’ll stop at at nothing to destroy it — even if it means making a deal with Elijah … Of course, saving the world would be a lot easier without falling in love.
Alys Murray is back with another triumph, and it all starts with a spellbinding setting. Leyton, a magical realm that shrouds itself away from the human world aside from once a year, is a pure dream for anyone who loves Halloween. Skeletons sing arias, the Headless Horseman provides a taxi service, and for anyone wanting a pet, teacup dragon cuteness abounds. Some novellas can suffer from not enough detail, particularly within fantasy. However, Murray expertly makes every one of her pages work to enhance Leyton as an entrancing destination with its own rules and regulations. Ultimately, this quirky place provides a fully realized backdrop to play in.
This is fortunate because, behind all that decoration, are two complicated characters. Eli has lived next to Leyton for the past ten years, with his house abutting Bel’s, and his sole mission has been to kill her. Morbid, sure. Yet that’s the life of a Witch Hunter. He’s her enemy, though they’ve never really spoken. And so Murray takes this decade of tension and twists it into an impossible situation — the destruction of the world — that forces them together. It’s a simple, quick setup, but it’s effective.
Certainly, Bel is the heart of the story, which is told from her perspective. Offbeat and funny, she faces the eminent collapse of the world with determination. And why? Because she would do anything to protect her family, specifically her absolutely divine aunts. Murray plays with this idea of family repeatedly, always unearthing a new examination, and these moments are believable because of the outpouring of love from Bel.
It’s funny, complicated, autumnally atmospheric, and, like any good Murray work, packed with romance. There’s something always appealing about two enemies coming together to find maybe there’s more than meets the eye to one another. And here? It’s as sweet as candy corn.
Title: Love Spells for the End of the World
Author: Alys Murray
Publication Date: September 16, 2019
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through Booksprout.