Payback’s A Witch

The Witches of Thistle Grove #1

Lana Harper

Quick Synopsis

Emily Harlow has not been to her magical hometown in years. But she is forced to return to fulfill her family duty as arbiter of a spellcasting tournament between the town’s founding families. Emily finds herself aligned in a pact with her best friend and the beautiful Talia as they seek to dethrone the Blackmoore family.

Publisher’s Synopsis

Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.

But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.

On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?

But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?

Book Review

I could not help but compare Payback’s A Witch to The Ex Hex as I read. They are both witchy romances that came out this fall. It is easy to say that Payback’s A Witch is the better book.

Payback’s A Witch is a story with both plot and romance. Even better, it is a sapphic romance between two bisexuals.

Where I found the plot weak in The Ex Hex, the opposite is true for Payback’s A Witch. Although a romance develops over the course of the book, the story is also centered around revenge and what amounts to a tri-witch tournament. It is nuanced and interesting with multiple conflicts and a climax that will keep you reading.

The characters were people I became invested in. I related to the main character, who was struggling to figure out how to be the person she wanted while in her hometown as well as how to let go of the past. All the while, there was friendship and rivalry in a witchy atmosphere.

Because I came down hard on the romance, or lack thereof, in The Ex Hex, I want to mention that there is actual romance in Payback’s A Witch that develops and builds with the storyline. The romance has all the things you want, including some conflict and tension. However, the spice is limited.

Things that Payback’s A Witch did better than The Ex Hex:
– Having a romance that actually develops over the course of the book
– The presence of tension and conflict within the romance
– Having an interesting plot that goes somewhere
– World building
– Main character arc and growth
Basically, if you want to read a new witchy romance, you should definitely pick up Payback’s A Witch over The Ex Hex.

My biggest critique is that the writing was overly descriptive for me. I know that is a personal preference, but it slowed me down and annoyed me at times. I also want to mention that particularly in the beginning of the book I found somethings to be almost crass. I am not a delicate flower by any means. I’m not sure if it just caught me off-guard or is just something I am not use to reading.

Overall, I enjoyed Payback’s A Witch and would recommend it.


Overall Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Rating: 3 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Character Development

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Payback’s A Witch


Romance; Magical Realism

Publication Date:
October 5, 2021

Page Count:

Storygraph Rating
3.88 stars

Goodreads Rating
3.75 stars

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