Release Date: 21st July 2022
Thank you HarperVoyager for my review copy!
Trigger Warnings (Potential Spoilers): transphobia, explicit sexual content, violence & character death.
Synopsis from HarperVoyager
Hidden among us is a secret coven of witches. They are Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. They protect crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil. But their greatest enemy will come from within. There are whisperings of a prophecy that will bring the coven to its knees, and five best friends are about to be caught at the centre. Life as a modern witch was never simple… but now it’s about to get apocalyptic.
Prepare to be bewitched by Juno Dawson’s first adult series. A story of ancient prophecies and modern dating, of sacred sisterhood and demonic frenemies.
Packed full of queer, trans, and female rage, Dawson holds up a mirror to the ugly side of modern UK gender politics. She deftly stresses the importance of intersectional feminism and sisterhood, tempering the bleakness with lovable characters and by inviting us into the hidden magical world of witches and warlocks.
Until about 20% of the way in, I felt a little ambivalent about the story. However, as soon as Theo hit the scene, I was hooked. By the end of the book, Theo, Niamh, Holly and Leonie (and many more!) had my heart in a vice grip.
Not often do plot twists catch me off guard, but Dawson kept me guessing. Some plot points I saw coming, but that didn’t put a damper on my enjoyment of the novel. The antagonist’s (naming no names to avoid spoilers!) slow descent into political extremism, was so upsettingly believable. If you’ve ever had the displeasure of arguing with a TERF (which, given the current state of UK politics, is quite likely), many scenes will feel oh so familiar – and so incredibly frustrating!
I’ve seen a few comments calling the book ‘heavy-handed’ and ‘too political.’ This book probably isn’t for you if you’re someone to describe yourself as ‘apolitical.’ A big theme of HMRC is that queer people and people of colour can rarely afford that luxury.
Finally: the ending. It’s an unbearably tense cliff-hanger. I didn’t realise, until the end, that HMRC was the start of a series. So… errr… Juno, I know HMRC isn’t out yet, but can we have the sequel now please and thank you?
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