Epeolatry Book Review: The Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst


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Title: The Spellshop
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Genre: Cottagecore Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Bramble
Release Date: 9th July, 2024

Synopsis: A lush cottagecore tale full of stolen spellbooks, unexpected friendships, sweet jams, and even sweeter love.
Kiela has always had trouble dealing with people. Thankfully, as librarian at the Great Library of Alyssium, she and her assistant Caz―a magically sentient spider plant―have spent the last decade sequestered among the empire’s most precious spellbooks, preserving their magic for the city’s elite.
Then a revolution begins and the library goes up in flames. She and Caz flee with all the spellbooks they can carry and head to a remote island Kiela never thought she’d see again: her childhood home. Taking refuge there, Kiela discovers, much to her dismay, a nosy―and very handsome―neighbor who can’t take a hint and keeps showing up day after day to make sure she’s fed and help fix up her new home.
In need of income and reluctantly inspired by the beauty and people of the island who have welcomed her into their hearts, Kiela discovers something that even the bakery in town doesn’t have: jam. With the help of an old recipe book her parents left her and a bit of illegal magic, her cottage garden is soon covered in ripe berries that become the town’s, and her handsome neighbor’s, new favorite confection.
But magic can do more than make life a little sweeter, so Kiela decides to open the island’s first-ever and much-needed secret spellshop.
Her plan comes with risks―the empire condemns the use of unsanctioned magic, and the consequence of sharing spells with commoners is death. But Kiela has only just found a place that feels like home and people who feel like family, and she’ll risk anything for a chance at happiness.
Like a Hallmark rom-com full of mythical creatures and fueled by cinnamon rolls and magic, Sarah Beth Durst’s The Spellshop will heal your heart and feed your soul.

Springtime is upon us, Reader. While that normally means a fresh start to this year’s new horror, I’ve taken the opportunity to review something lighter. It’s not doom and gloom all the time, Reader. Sometimes it takes the light to appreciate the dark.

The Spellshop is a cottagecore romance by Sarah Beth Durst. Set in a land of fantasy, Durst does an incredible job of building an entire world while sticking mostly to a tiny island. In the midst of a revolution to overthrow a kingdom, Kiela flees the library in Alyssium for her childhood home on the island of Caltrey. Once there, she learns about the revolution’s impact on the entire kingdom. Magic is controlled by sorcerers who used to make regular trips out to the island to help control everything from tree health to the birthing of magical animals. Without the sorcerers, most of the island is starting to die, and it’s here that Kiela, along with some borrowed spellbooks, begins doing what she can to restore the island.

The characters in this novel are relatable and delightful to get to know. Kiela is a shy recluse who’d rather spent time with her books than other people. Larran, the love interest, is a solitary herder who, in the beginning, is a constant thorn in Kiela’s side. Caz, the sentient spider-plant, plays the comic relief and is hilarious. The rest of the island’s residents round out the cast and help fill in backstory for both Kiela and Larran.

Along with the characters already on the island, the revolution sees the arrival of other visitors. It’s with their arrival that the discovery of magic leads to the major conflict. Use of magic by anyone but the sorcerers is considered illegal, and thus Kiela must hide what she’s been doing since arriving on the island. It’s at this point that, in my opinion, the escalating issues might be a little over the top. Just as one issue is dealt with, another piece of information elevates it or another visitor complicates it.  

Books published by Bramble often contain spicier romance. The Spellshop is more of a coming-of-age romance that builds gradually into something pure and enjoyable. Durst crafted a tale that makes the budding romance a part of the story, yet not the whole story.

Since the multi-escalating final conflict is the only rough spot in the novel, The Spellshop was a delight to read. If Durst could turn this cast of characters into a series, I see myself picking up new books just to read what kind of wild adventures Kiela, Larran, and especially Caz, get into.

The Spellshop by Sara Beth Durst is a wonderful read with many light-hearted elements. For those unfamiliar with the cottagecore genre, this is a marvelous example of what to expect. Readers who are fans of fantasy, romance, and casual reads should definitely consider this novel.


Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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1 Response

  1. Willow Croft says:

    This looks charming!