Be careful what you wish for. If you’re a witch, you might just get it.
Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It’s a secret she can share only with her friends—all professors, all witches—when they gather for the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft.
Amandine treasures these meetings but lately senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa’s power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up. Unfortunately, Noa regards her gift as a curse. So when a seductive artist claims he can cure her, Noa jumps at the chance, no matter the cost.
Noa’s not the only witch who’s in over her head. Mathematics professor Kat has a serious case of unrequited love but refuses to cast spells to win anyone’s heart. Kat’s sister, Cosima, is not above using magic to get what she wants, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on Kat’s crush, she conjures up a dangerous love triangle.
As romance and longing swirl through every picturesque side street, the witches of Cambridge find their lives unexpectedly upended and changed in ways sometimes extraordinary, sometimes heartbreaking, but always enchanting.
I enjoyed The Dress Shop of Dreams. It was sweet, whimsical and just different enough from what I typically read that it was a change of pace that was quite pleasant. So, I didn’t need to think too hard about reading The Witches of Cambridge and it was just as sweet, whimsical and well written, but it didn’t have the same lure to fully capture my interest.
It’s difficult to pinpoint why I couldn’t get lost in the story and had no issue with setting it aside for moments at a time because it really was well written. Each of the characters and their stories are well done and I liked how while they each had their own road to tread they also intersected with each other throughout the book. Of all the characters and their storylines, my favorite was Heloise’s because of how she finally overcame the obstacles in her way and found her happiness once more.
The one aspect that I thought was better in this book versus The Dress Shop of Dreams was how the gifts of each of the witches were woven into the story. In The Dress Shop the magic is remarked upon once, maybe twice and that’s it, but in this one we get to see their gifts much more and is something that helps to move the various storylines along.
The Bottom Line: Though The Witches of Cambridge didn’t fully capture my interest, it was still a well written story that is worth a try if you’re looking for something a little sweet and whimsical.
~ ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ~
Menna van Praag was born in Cambridge, England and studied Modern History at Oxford University. Her first novella - an autobiographical tale about a waitress who aspires to be a writer - Men, Money & Chocolate has been translated into 26 languages. Her first work of literary fiction, The House at the End of Hope Street, was inspired by an idea the author had to set up a house for female artists to give them a year to fulfil their artistic ambitions. Her next novel, The Dress Shop of Dreams, is set on the magical street of All Saints Passage where a scientist falls in love with a mysterious man who has a magical voice. All Menna van Praag's novels, excepting Happier Than She's Ever Been, are set among the colleges, cafes and bookshops of Cambridge, England.