I've made it no secret that when I picture 90% of the male leads in the books I read, they're either Adam Driver or Tom Hiddleston. I don't know what made me this way, but I do know that it is nowhere near a problem and I do not want it to stop.
That said, I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of What the Hex by Jessica Clare and when I tell you that she gave us the Domhnall Gleeson book we've been needing since he starred as Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise, I mean that if you thought Bill Weasley was hot....RUN to get this book!
The second in the Hex franchise, What the Hex follows Penny Roundtree as she's waiting...and waiting...and waiting to become a familiar for a witch or warlock. She spends her days in a state of chronic positivity and keeps her schedule busy: she works for a witch at CBD Whee!, packing and shipping spell components to witches and warlocks across the world, volunteers in the local chapter of the Society of Familiars, and acts as a live-in maid, chef, and groundskeeper for the parents that have all but forgotten she exists. Penny's life is turned upside down when she's approached by her friends Reggie and Ben (the Adam Driver warlock the world needs from Go Hex Yourself, which I will be reading soon. Don't tell Karin I didn't read it first, it'll probably give her a heart attack) to become a familiar...in secret.
Willem Sauer is a grumpy, bored, sarcastic warlock with a sordid past--he's been forbidden from taking a familiar as punishment for Y2K. Yeah...that Y2K. He's got ten years left on his ban, but can't stand another moment of not being able to cast spells, so he's seeking out a familiar who can be subtle. Subtlety is not bright, sunshiney Penny's strongsuit.
What follows is a hilarious and surprisingly steamy journey of magic and romance. I absolutely enjoyed learning about the magic system in Jessica Clare's world, and found Penny's particular quirk (she gets a secret...um...extra reward every time Willem uses her magic to cast a spell--unbeknownst to him) to be hysterical. She is all of us, anxious and afraid to assume, but unwilling to ask the question just so she can avoid awkwardness. Relatable af, right?
My only complaint was pacing: as the reader, we don't see Penny and Willem spending time together casting, so they go from disdain to fascination to romance rather quickly. They have one fake date and he suddenly can't control his hands? While that seemed rushed, I did love that it gave us more time for the climax (ha, giggity) of the story to fully flesh out (okay, I'll see myself out on that one).
While I won't call it a cozy fantasy, this was pretty low-stakes, which made it an enjoyable read without putting additional stress on the reader.
Trust me, if you've ever been a Gleeson girlie (or boy or nonbinary pal, we don't discriminate here!), you'll want to read this book! Order the first Hex book, Go Hex Yourself here, then grab What the Hex here! You won't be disappointed!
Brb, gonna go fall in love with Ben Magnus (Go Hex Yourself!) now!
Love and Pip the squirrel snuggles,
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review with my honest feedback. If you purchase a copy using my Amazon affiliate link above, I will receive a small commission which I will use to justify my literary addictions and to spoil my dogs (probably).