Sadie has always kept people at a distance, a result of wanting to protect her magic from a curse that says she will lose it after suffering four great heartbreaks. After both her first love Jake and her twin brother Seth leave town, she guards her heart even closer, only truly allowing her grandmother and best friend in. But when both Jake and Seth return to town just as her grandmother is diagnosed with cancer and only weeks to live, Sadie has to confront her final two heartbreaks and decide if love is more important than magic.

This book was made to be enjoyed during cozy sweater weather with a hot cup of tea and wrapped in a comfy blanket. I fell in love with the town of Poppy Meadows immediately and it made me, a born and bred big city Bay Area girl, want to pack up and take off to find my own small town where everyone knows each other and all four seasons can be experienced.

Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic is the very basic, short pitch of the book and it hits exactly the right notes. The community in Poppy Meadows was very reminiscent of Stars Hollow, down to the no-nonsense business owner who will give you a tongue lashing if you’re late on a delivery and the overly involved mayor that makes you want to run and hide.

On the magical front, Sadie (and her family) are descended from one of the magical families that founded the town and Sadie’s magic in particular revolves around food. She cooks and bakes with intention, including ingredients that are meant to elicit some kind of feeling - which is usually a great help to her community but can also lead to some unintended consequences.

And listen, reading books that feature food so prominently is really dangerous. You get hungry because of the description. You get angry because you can’t have exactly what’s on the page. But not in this book! (Well, yes to the hungry part.) At the end of each chapter, a recipe is included for something that was featured in that chapter. Please, I’m begging every author, editor, publisher, whoever is involved with books…let’s make this a more regular occurrence!

Sadie as a character is incredibly relatable, wanting to help others but never asking for help herself. This is exactly what I do and it was nice to see that reflected back. On the flip side however, it also made me incredibly frustrated with Sadie at times, which I feel like is a credit to Breanne’s writing - it’s frustration with Sadie, sure, but mostly because it’s a reflection of me and I don’t like looking in the mirror, okay?

Some things that are revealed as the book goes on are easy to spot well before they happen, but this doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the story. Breanne created a little slice of paradise with Poppy Meadows where people from all over can come and live as themselves and within a community that accepts them. I fell in love with the soft characters, the loving relationships, the magical whimsy, and the sense of community in this story and can’t wait to revisit this world again.

THE UNFORTUNATE SIDE EFFECTS OF HEARTBREAK AND MAGIC is Breanne Randall’s debut novel and hits shelves on September 19, 2023. Preorder your copy here and then submit this form to get a digital recipe book with all the recipes from the book!

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."