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Book Review: The Hex Next Door by Lou Wilham

4 Stars

Genre: LGBTQIA Urban Fantasy

For the Crow Witch, Icarus "Rus" Ashthorne, Moondale seemed the perfect hiding place. But like they always say, you can't go home again, and Rus finds out quickly that nothing is how she remembered, while at the same time very little has changed. Then she comes face to face with the only woman she's ever loved, Az Elwood, and... well, things get messier than she thought they ever could. The Elwoods are a staple of Moondale, respected, feared, powerful, and Azure Elwood was always happy with her place amongst them. Happy to play the part of the good little witch, until Rus Ashthorne. Eleven years ago, Rus got on a bus and left Azure behind, but she's back, with two little girls trailing her like ducklings, and enough unspoken things between them to drown the town. Now witch hunters are knocking at their proverbial door, the council of magic is being a real pain in the ass, and Rus wonders how much magic it’ll take to protect the people she loves from herself and the danger following her.

My Review

I truly meant to read this one over Halloween, but other priorities came first. But I think it is a fun read for the Halloween season. This book had many good qualities. It describes a world of magic in which witches own and operate their own towns. There are systems of order and law for the witches, but of course, the novel wouldn’t be any fun unless the main character, Icarus “Rus” Ashthorne, didn’t rebel against all of them. She likely gets away with it because all the witches in Moondale seem to recognize the greatness in her powers. Rus practices necromancy, a form of magic banned in Moondale. While it gives her a bad reputation, it may be just the thing that saves her family and perhaps the entire town.

Throughout the novel, we learn about the life of witches and the rules of magic. The author is able to keep the reader engaged consistently here. There are also a lot of arrogant characters who like to push each other’s buttons. Even the ones who are family or the closest friends seem to enjoy getting snotty with one another. At the same time, the reader witnesses the way that even old enemies, such as Rus and the town sheriff, are still devoted to protecting all witches and Moondale at any cost. Thus, there is a strong camaraderie among witches in the story.

This novel is also a love story. Rus is reunited with her old love, Azure Elwood, and the reader can see immediately that old feelings are alive and well with these two. Likewise, the reader can find amusement in the ways that the two women refuse to admit their feelings for each other. Regardless, Az is determined to protect Rus and her daughters who are in danger from other witches who seek to exploit the girls’ powers.

Rus’ dismissal of rules and traditions makes her a likeable character. While others do not condone her magic, her magic constantly saves her and her daughters. However, she does also place herself at risk, which is the reason others attempt to sway her against it. It is a delicate line that she must walk to use the powers she knows will defend against threats while also not killing herself in the process.

I wish I could have been more in Rus’ and Az’s heads. I felt that their emotions were described, but I wasn’t in the experience with them. I wanted more deeper exploration there. I’m bias because I like books with more angst. For my preference, it was lacking here. However, the story is plot-driven, and if that is its purpose, then it works.

About the Author

Born and raised in a small town near the Chesapeake Bay, Lou Wilham grew up on a steady diet of fiction, arts and crafts, and Old Bay. After years of absorbing everything, there was to absorb of fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi she's left with a serious writing/drawing habit that just won't quit. These days, she spends much of her time writing, drawing, and chasing a very short Basset Hound named Sherlock.

When not, daydreaming up new characters to write and draw she can be found crocheting, making cute bookmarks, and binge-watching whatever happens to catch her eye.

Learn more about Lou and her future projects on her website:

Or follow her on social media @lou.wilham on Instagram or @louwilham on Facebook.

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