Can you think of a book idea better than, "it's Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic"? Because I certainly cannot.
I stumbled upon Breanne Randall's TikTok, like so many others, when she appeared on my For You page gushing about her new "Gilmore Girls x Practical Magic" book, The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic...and obviously I flew to NetGalley faster than my internet could carry me. Within a day or so, I was approved!
You'll immediately fall in love with Poppy Meadows, the picturesque Northern California town that is the the setting for The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic, and one of its most beloved residents: Sadie Revelare. Sadie hates the term witch, but she, and her family, are descendants of the seven founding (and magical) families of Poppy Meadows. Sadie owns the local cafe and bakery, A Peach In Time, and all of her recipes tend to…make things happen. You ate one of Sadie's scones and suddenly had the courage to spill your heart to your crush? It happens!
While she lives in the picture perfect town, Sadie's life is anything but cozy. She knows that she's the victim of a curse that will leave her heartbroken not once, not twice, but FOUR times. She's experienced two of the heartbreaks so far, as she's been abandoned twice by the men closest to her: her previous love, Jake and, even worse, her twin brother Seth. Then, Jake returns to town and her grandmother reveals a terminal cancer diagnosis...and Sadie's life all but crumbles from there.
I really enjoyed this book! It got the Practical Magic vibes PERFECTLY--it's as if Sadie lives in the same town as Sally and Gillian, just with another POV. That part of the story was so insanely cozy that I found myself, a SUMMER PERSON through and through, wishing I was reading this book on a crisp fall day with a warm cup of apple cinnamon spiced tea. The Gilmore Girls nod was also there, but more muted; Poppy Meadows is so reminiscent of Stars Hollow! There's even one resident in particular that was so clearly a Mrs. Kim that it made me miss her so much it hurts--and that means it's time for another Gilmore Girls binge!
I found Sadie to be a pretty relatable main character. She's a bit selfish at times, and totally out of touch with her own needs, but my gosh do I understand her on an elemental level: I'm also the one who has to help everyone around me before thinking about helping myself. I'm working on it, and it was nice to find a character that has some of the same struggles. I refer to it as "oldest daughter" syndrome, personally, but it could also be "the twin who stayed," for Sadie. This book is also full of a diverse cast of characters! Poppy Meadows seems to be a haven of people from so many different cultures, and I felt like Breanne did a lovely job of respecting different cultures without appropriating them--and I hope that once you read it, you'll agree.
Perhaps my favorite parts of the The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic was the end of every chapter: there were RECIPES! We've discussed so many books that made us starve on the podcast, and I'd find my mouth watering over a baked good, or a fried chicken recipe, or an infused honey, only to turn the page and find that I have the recipe there and ready to make it myself! Talk about giving the people what they want!
I also had the sweetest interaction with Breanne. I knew that there were more heartbreaks coming, and then a dog was introduced, and, well, you know me. So, I did what any insanenormal person would do and immediately DM'ed the author for a trigger warning. Thankfully, she is ONEOFUSONEOFUSONEOFUS and said that she could NEVER harm a dog, so, reader be confident: Bambi and Abby are 100% totally fine throughout the entirety of the book!
Before I wrap this latest ramble up, you know I'm going to drop the content warnings. There is talk of anxiety, depression, and suicide, murder, allusion to rape that resulted in pregnancy (this may not be 100% the case, but it was my takeaway), terminal illness, cancer (including *SPOILER ALERT* death by cancer on page), and (SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT THIS IS A BIG SPOILER ALERT) a faked pregnancy.
The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic by Breanne Randall releases on September 19, and Breanne has a preorder incentive going! Order for shipping (or delivery if you're close!) from Books are Magic here, and you'll get a SIGNED copy with an EXCLUSIVE BONUS RECIPE from Breanne! Or if you'd prefer Amazon (hey, maybe you have a gift card!) you can preorder a copy here now!
I can't wait to re-read this book in the fall!
Love and Orange Honey Vanilla Scones,
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley 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).