cover image The Spellshop

The Spellshop

Sarah Beth Durst. Bramble, $29.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-33397-1

Durst (The Lies Among Us) celebrates the power of community in this whimsical cottagecore romantasy. Introverted librarian Kiela Orobidan and her sentient spider plant assistant, Caz, escape a populist revolution–fueled fire in the the Great Library of Alyssium by sailing to Kiela’s abandoned family cottage on the small island of Caltrey with only a few crates of irreplaceable spell books in tow. Imperial law restricts the use of magic to scholars, but when she sees the island’s residents struggling with harsh environmental conditions and poverty without assistance from the empire’s sorcerers, Kiela quietly uses her spell books to help the locals, claiming the charms she sells in her new jam shop are “family remedies”. Meanwhile, her handsome new neighbor Larran Maver helps restore her cottage and becomes a friend—with a spark of something more. Durst packs her cozy and colorful tale full of sweet magical creatures, including unicorns, winged cats, and friendly tree sprits that manifest as bears, and her diverse supporting cast exudes a near-uniform air of kindness. The political plot is largely background noise after serving its purpose of getting Kiela home and on a path to using magic, which may frustrate readers looking for more comprehensive worldbuilding. Those who come for the cheery aesthetic and celebration of everyday successes, however, will find this utterly delightful. (July)