The Crescent Spell by Zoe Abrams (Alehem Witches #1)

Crescent Spell


The Crescent Spell
by Zoe Abrams

Fantasy/Romance/Why Choose?

Book #1 The Alehem Witches

236 Pages

Published 15th August 2022

Purchase from | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating of 3.75

Briar’s life is quiet but content. Being a well known dress maker in Islar, she spends her days sewing gowns and her evenings snuggling up with her cat. Until one night, a dark haired stranger appears in her shop and casts a spell tasting of night and stars over her turning her world upside down. Now she must navigate this strange new world with these men that she’s bound to, trusting that they will help her make it out alive. The one burning question that Briar has however is, If there is no magic in Islar, then how come she’s suddenly bound to it?

I was super excited to receive an ARC copy of this book! Abrams described it as Howl’s Moving Castle but with spice. SIGN. ME. UP. I will tell you, straight off the bat, I could feel the gorgeous Howl’s vibe from the first sentence. It really had me feeling all kinds of ways because I adore that story and movie. The imagery of the world, the characters and the scenery was beautiful and I really thoroughly enjoyed it. The world building was rich without being info dumpy and the descriptions were beautifully detailed without being overly flowery which was absolutely fantastic. Some stories I find get really bogged down in the details, this one does not.

The story was so wonderfully unique for me. I’ve read a fair whack of fantasy and I loved the whimsical feel that this one had to it. The story itself was also a breath of fresh air for me, I loved going on this journey with Briar as she learns about who she really is. The last quarter of the book, I was absolutely glued to the page. I feel like that was where Abrams’ story really stood up and became an amazing story in it’s own right. The urgency, the danger, the questions, the trials, the realisations, all of it was so wonderfully delicious and I adored every second. I’m still thinking about it now, and when a book can make me keep thinking about it after finishing it over a day ago, to me, that denotes a good book.

I do want to add in here, that while I can really, really appreciate the inspiration from Howl’s Moving Castle and I could definitely see the inspiration peppered throughout the story itself, there were a couple of things that were a little on the nose for me. Not in a bad way, just in a “this is really really really close to some details from the inspiration material” and it made me a teeeeeeny bit uncomfortable and not sure how to feel. There is a the small detail of Avan’s house, it can move between four locations, and is controlled by a wheel next to the door. Each location has a colour, and you spin the wheel to the colour to move to that location. I felt like this was a little too close to the detail from Howl’s, but it’s not a sole focus for the story, rather a plot device that is used when needed. The other was Avan’s off handed obsession with his hair – Howl also has this. Other than these two things, however, I felt like everything else was super original and I really enjoyed it all. I loved the details added in about the black location, the creatures that reside there and the strange world that Briar found herself in really did have me on the edge of my seat, and I felt incredible concern for the strange beast that is described, and trust me, it’s no small feat to make me fear a fictional creature. So I applaud Abrams in her ability to make her world, creatures and characters jump right off the page.

I loved the characters. Ainsley (Briar’s sister), though we don’t see her that much in this initial instalment, she did come off as a little bit of a carbon copy of the sister in Howl’s, but with slight differences, and she’s playing a bigger role. So I let that one slide. I’m curious to see her pop up again though, I have questions and I feel like she has answers. Briar’s character I really enjoyed, she’s quiet, and sort of blends into the background a little, until she doesn’t. As said above, I feel like Briar also came into her own in the last quarter of the book. We started to see who she really is underneath and I’m looking forward to seeing what she becomes. Cal…my dear Cal. I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t my favourite of the love interests. Something about him just makes me swoon. Avan is a good character, but I feel like there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to him, and there’s still so much to be uncovered, so I don’t have much to say. Ian is an intriguing character and I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out in regards to the character relationship when it comes to him. Once again, I have many questions and I feel like he has a lot of the answers.
In regards to the relationships, I’d put the ones we see here as an insta-lust feel, I’m not a fan of insta-love – and these were definitely not that. Yes there are deep feelings between the characters as their stories are woven together and they are on this journey, but it’s not love. And I’m totally okay with this. The spice that we did get was hot, yet tasteful and it didn’t take full center stage to the story, it was more a by product of the story that was unfolding and I thoroughly enjoyed the way that it was written in.

All in all, I enjoyed this a lot more than I actually thought that I would. Yes there are some aspects of the story that are a little bit too heavily inspired by Howl’s, but honestly? I feel like they’re not really going to be sitting glaringly in the forefront in the following instalments, they’re a little quirk that will fade into the background while Abrams story grows into the magical beast that it’s promising to be. This is a wonderfully whimsical fantasy story that has high steaks and intriguing characters and I am hanging to see what happens next.

View all my reviews

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