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  • Writer's pictureLaura Perry

Book Review: Spells for the Second Sister

Nimue Brown has turned out yet another entrancing book that manages to combine a page-turning story with some really deep subjects.

Spells for the Second Sister is an entertaining yet deep exploration of the nature of magic and reality itself in the form of the diary of a disgruntled British woman. It's quite an ingenious setup, really. The first-person narration checks in with the main character every seven years as she makes her way through an increasingly complicated life.

She doesn't necessarily know what's going to happen in the future and is sometimes even a bit foggy about the present. Which isn't to say that the story is dull - not in the least. In fact, the tangliness of it is part of what I found so entrancing.

The writing is full of wry humor and rustic poetry. It comes at what you might call philosophy from a variety of different angles. This is the kind of book about which big booksellers like to say things such as "Magic rubs shoulders with the painfully mundane in the modern world" or some such.

Rubs shoulders? More like magic pokes holes in the mundane world, trips it up, purposely tears at its corners. Maybe sets fire to bits of it here and there.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess maybe that's for the reader to decide.

The book includes good diversity representation, including a quietly queer main character. Content warning for some suicidal ideation, and it's definitely not a cozy. Much of it is unsettling, even if it's not directly violent. But it's also

fascinating and hard to put down.

The author has generously offered the book on her Ko-Fi without requiring payment, but I encourage you to chip in if you're able. It's well worth it.

If you'd like a bit of a taste before reading the whole thing, you can check out Nimue talking about the book and reading from the introduction here.

So if you're up for a bit of an adventure that involves as much shadow as light and a whole bunch of magic, some of which doesn't sparkle at all, I recommend this one. Happy reading!

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