The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

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I picked this up because it’s part of r/fantasy’s Happily Ever After book club (HEA) and it’s been a good while since I’ve participated in one of their book clubs. I’m in the mood for happy stuff as well, witches are good for October, and I wanted something cozy, so this seemed a natural choice.

I love the fact that the main protagonist, Mika Moon, is one of the youngest witches she knows given she herself is 31 years old. I am just jammin’ with all these older lady protags I’m reading recently. My moniker may make this obvious, but I relate to, and I have felt like an “old person” for a long time.

So anyway, she grows up in a world very similar to our own. It’s modern times, there’s social media much like our own, the technology and society is more or less paralleled — but in this world there are secret witches. Witches have gone to ground after the witch burnings in the 16th and 17th century, choosing to keep themselves a secret at all costs. There may or may not still be “witch hunters” in their age, the book was kind of vague on that threat, but they were definitely real once and brought death and destruction with them. For this reason, and others involving the power of magic itself, witches now live solitary lives only meeting up once every few months to exchange news, new spells, and share brief companionship.

Being a witch is handled differently by everyone, but the rule that’s generally accepted is even with friends and family it’s best to keep your powers a secret, lest you be a risk for everyone. Mika has always wanted to have a potion shop, she’s particularly good at brewing potions and teas but could never open up her own shop for secrecy reasons. She’s done the next best thing and created a fake persona, basically tiktok account, where she does fake magic online and has a decent sized following. This pisses off the head witch to no end, but there’s not a ton she can do about it. There aren’t ‘laws’, people just sort of voluntarily follow this witch who ‘governs’ the area of Britain/UK. Again, it’s sort of unclear here in the world building. I would say that aspect is probably the weakest part of the book, things are left vague, including about the boundaries of head witches and many other aspects of their society. There are witches all over the globe and there are ‘leaders’ designated by geographic region, and most of this seems to be voluntary, not strictly upheld hierarchy with witch jails and whatnot.

So, Mika gets the attention of someone who thinks she’s a witch for real. He and a few others have adopted three girls who are all magical but losing control of their powers. Witches are always orphaned. The parents of a witch die within a year or so of their birth, it’s inevitable, and so it leaves young witches alone in the world from the start. Lucky ones have grandparents or aunts/uncles to help out, Mika unfortunately did not.

So this dude, Ian, finds himself in the care of three young witches and he needs help because he’s not magical. Witches when together increase the magical draw, and accidents can happen if you’re not trained. None of them are supposed live together as trained adults, let alone three untrained kids. If the head witch finds out about these girls she will separate them to live solitary lives, or try her best to anyway. On top of that, there’s someone who’s coming to inspect the estate where these girls are being hidden, and this estate manager will ruin everything if he sees a magical catastrophe while he’s there. So, Mika is on a mission to train up these girls so they aren’t a threat, while also no catching the attention of the head witch.

This is a very “low stakes’ story in that the world is not at risk, this is all about individual characters and the stakes of their lives not the world, but I found myself absolutely engrossed. I listened to this from start to finish in a day just sitting and crocheting. It was so relaxing and sublime, this is such a feel good story.

Since all witches are born into the world alone, without parents and often times without siblings, this is a “found family” story. Folks who feel alone now, or have in the past, could find this to be a warm cup of soup. It’s highly LGBTQIA+ friendly in that there are multiple queer relationships, and they acknowledge their struggles to become accepted, again this mirrors the real world, and so Ian and his husband have not always been accepted by society.

Mika has a romance subplot of her own which I mostly liked, but it’s not why I was reading it. I really just loved Mika and wanted to see where her story led regardless of her love interest. It’s a very healthy relationship, I’m not sure why I only liked and not loved that aspect but I’m odd when it comes to romance. It’s a enemies to lovers trope and that one just never seems to quite work for me, even when it seems like it should.

I’d really recommend this to anyone who needs a hug in book form.


  • Plot: 12/15
  • Characters: 14/15
  • World Building: 11/15
  • Writing: 14/15
  • Pacing: 14/15
  • Originality: 11/15
  • Enjoyment: 9/10

Final Score: 85/100 or 5 stars on GR