In Gutsol’s debut YA work, a young witch humorously narrates her everyday life in a small town, where she runs a store that’s sometimes unpopular with the local populace.
Arelia owns a magic potions shop in the town of Burnaville. She keeps a diary from June to December about her activities with her house spirit, Puck, and her cat (named “Cat”). Puck grumbles about finances, while Cat steals food and looks for new religions to follow; black-and-white illustrations of each occasionally accompany the text. Despite Arelia’s claims that very little happens in Burnaville, each day is full of silly goings-on. On some days, the local villagers come to buy potions to lose weight or cure hangovers; on others, they brandish pitchforks at Arelia when bad things happen to their cattle. Father Alfred occasionally douses her store with holy water, which amuses her. She also has an antagonistic relationship with a rooster that wakes her up early in the morning. At times, she hangs out with her fellow witch, Lucinda, or goes to the forest to pick mushrooms and visit werewolf/grizzly bear Victor or vampire scholar Draculus. Her visits to the astral plane, mostly to trade for coffee, can become complicated when the plane isn’t locked properly. Arelia’s adventures in this book are entertaining and lighthearted in tone, and as a result, it’s an extremely quick read. However, there are few surprises in the work, on the whole. Although Arelia’s day-to-day activities give the narrative some forward momentum, the plot is both predictable and forgettable. The fact that she seems to have a ready quip or response to any challenge that comes her way is entertaining, but it’s also a double-edged sword, as the reader will never truly be concerned about her well-being at any point along the way.
A jolly, lightweight adventure whose outcome is easy to guess.