August 15, 2022

REVIEW From Bad to Cursed (The Witches of Thistle Grove #2) by Lana Harper

From Bad to Cursed (The Witches of Thistle Grove #2) by Lana Harper
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Format: Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Berkley

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After reading the first book, Payback's A Witch, I was dying for some Rowan/Isidora content. Author Lana Harper absolutely delivered in the latest installment of The Witches of Thistle Grove Series, From Bad to Cursed. The book is a blend of paranormal romance, romantic comedy, and mystery. 

Isidora Avramov is a member of one of the founding families of Thistle Grove; her family's specialty is necromancy and death magic. Driven and stubborn, she serves as the artistic director for her family's haunted house and dreams of becoming a designer. On the other side of the story is Rowan Thorn, Issa's opposite in every way (with a family known for practicing magic that promotes life and rebirth) and sworn nemesis. Both agree on wanting to ignore the other's existence for as long as possible, but fate ends up forcing them together when dark magic starts making an appearance in town and they get drafted to investigate. If you, like me, read the first book in the series and wondered what happened between the two of them, you'll be pleased to know this story answers all your questions. It's quite a humorous (and somewhat childish) spat, and ends up inspiring some hilarious interactions throughout the story. 

At its heart, this is an ‘opposites attract’ or ‘enemies-to-lovers’ romance tale. Their feud has been going on for years, and it was nice to see them both acknowledge that they made mistakes. I also thought it was important for them to acknowledge the challenges and biases the other faces in their day-to-day life (Rowan is a black male living in the US, while Issa's family is looked down on because of their death magic). 

Given that this is more of urban fantasy, a lot of worldbuilding isn't necessary. Ms. Harper had just the right amount, with more details on the history of Thistle Grove and explanations of how the magic works. Payback's A Witch gave the basics on how the magic of each family works, and From Bad to Cursed goes more in-depth on the magic of the Avramovs and Thorns specifically. My favorite part of the Thorn's magic was getting to meet the Heart tree (the oldest tree in their orchard; a wise and sentient being that ends up helping Issa and Rowan in their quest). Every family in Thistle Grove is different (in magic and in inter-family dynamics) but they all have their role to play in the town. 

Altogether, this was another fantastic book from Lana Harper. The writing is top-notch, the plot is stellar and the characters are diverse and engaging. Meg Price did a fantastic job bringing the story (and Isidora’s character in particular) to life in the audiobook narration. After reading this book, I’m even more excited for Morty and Nineve’s story in Back in a Spell (releasing January 2023). The Blackmores have largely been disliked in the first two books, so it will be interesting to see a member of that family featured front and center in the story (and get to read about a pansexual romance for the first time).

About the Author

Lana studied psychology and literature at Yale University and law at Boston University. She is a graduate of the Emerson College publishing and writing program and the author of YA novels Wicked Like a WildfireFierce Like a FirestormBlood Countess, the forthcoming Poison Priestess, and the forthcoming adult rom-com, Payback's A Witch, from Berkley Books (10/5/21). Lana was born in Serbia and lived in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania before moving to the United States. She lives in Chicago with her family.

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