(Full disclosure: This post uses Bookshop.org affiliate links. I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from Berkley & NetGalley in exchange for my honest review).
Have you ever read a book that made you laugh out loud, to the point that whoever was nearby at the time asked what you were reading? Would you like to do it again — or for the first time?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, may I recommend India Holton’s The League of Gentlewomen Witches? This latest installment in the Dangerous Damsels series comes out today, March 15th, so you can officially go out and grab a copy right now.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Oh, you’re not convinced? Well, okay, I suppose I can tell you a bit more about why I think this book is the perfect one to read right now. First, a little snippet from the synopsis:
Miss Charlotte Pettifer belongs to a secret league of women skilled in the subtle arts. That is to say — although it must never be said — witchcraft. The League of Gentlewomen Witches strives to improve the world in small ways. Using magic, they tidy, correct, and manipulate according to their notions of what is proper, entirely unlike those reprobates in the Wisteria Society.
When the long lost amulet of Black Beryl is discovered, it is up to Charlotte, as the future leader of the League, to make sure the powerful talisman does not fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, it is most unfortunate when she crosses paths with Alex O’Riley, a pirate who is no Mr. Darcy. — Goodreads Synopsis
What I Liked
This book is full of spot-on literary references from classics like Pride and Prejudice and other works of Austen. Charlotte tries to model her good behavior off these heroines, with hilarious results, seeing as these women were in no way built for the world of pirates and witches (which do not exist, but if they did). Watching her imagine their reactions to various scenarious is one of the main reasons I kept laughing out loud while reading.
Like its predecessor, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, this book is chock full of tongue-in-cheek humor about genre conventions of romances and adventure narratives alike.
It’s also just all-out, absolutely bonkers in the best way. The narrative voice is spot-on for the world of magic and antics that Holton has created and shifts seamlessly between a close third person from Charlotte’s perspective to Alex’s.
Our good friends Cecilia and Ned from the first book in the series play more than a minor role, as well, and it was nice to see the characters return and advance their story a bit. These days the word “series” gets used a bit loosely in my personal opinion, but here I felt the connections were strong enough to warrant the word.
What I Didn’t Like
I think I said this about the first book, as well, but sometimes the absurdity was bit much for me personally. The entire setup is so ridiculous that sometimes the stakes felt incredibly low.
In theory, that’s excellent, since I don’t want to be reading anything too serious or heavy in the midst of all the things happening in the world right now. But in practice, I sometimes didn’t feel compelled to pick the book back up because I just didn’t feel the need to know what would happen next.
That’s really my only complaint, and it may in fact be a positive thing if you’re looking for a good adventure with a guaranteed happy ending in these times. Which, aren’t we all?
In all, I think Holton has done a masterful job of crafting an adventure/romance that pokes good fun at itself. The lit nerd love kicks up a notch in this book and the BA in Literature in me was thrilled.
If you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh and keep you guessing at what the characters will do next, look no further than The League of Gentlewomen Witches. I recommend it particularly to former (or current) lit majors, lovers of Jane Austen, and anyone looking for a lighthearted laugh of a book.
Many thanks to Berkley Publishing and NetGalley for the digital advanced reader copy!