Thursday, July 4, 2024

Review: The Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst


The Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst
Publication Date: July 9th, 2024
Hardcover. 384 pages.

About The Spellshop:

"Kiela has always had trouble dealing with people. Thankfully, as a 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.

When 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 to help fix up her new home.

In need of income, Kiela identifies 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.

But magic can do more than make life a little sweeter, so Kiela risks the consequences of using unsanctioned spells and opens the island’s first-ever and much needed secret spellshop."

The Spellshop is every bit as enchanting and delightful as I'd hoped–and maybe even a bit more!

This is exactly the cozy, delightful fantasy that you've been looking for. Sarah Beth Durst has created a vibrant, comforting, and compelling world with a magic system that absolutely captivated me. I quickly and completely fell in love with this world, the protagonist, and every other character we meet in this book (well, maybe barring one or two). This wasn't necessarily the most original story I've ever read, but I'm not someone that needs every single thing to be brand new and I really loved what Durst did with this story. 

We follow Kiela, a librarian at the Great Library of Alyssium, as she unexpectedly is forced to leave the library and ends up going into hiding at her childhood home, a remote island that she hopes will be able to provide a safe place for her to stay and also keep some magic–and illegal–spellbooks safe. Once there, Kiela ends up opening a jam shop, which allows her to better get to know her neighbors and also begin experimenting with some new ideas that have the possibility of getting her into some trouble one day...

Kiela is a delightful protagonist, and that's not exactly because she's an exceptionally warm or bubbly person, but rather because she is the exact opposite–in all the best ways possible. Kiela is the ultimate introvert (she reminds me a bit of Emily Wilde, if that helps at all), avoiding social interactions whenever she can and remidning herself that seeing poeple is not a bad thing–although she does come to realize that maybe she doesn't feel quite as terrible as she thinks when interacting with some poeple. I loved how true she stayed to her character throughout the story while still managing to showcase some wonderful character development throughout. 

This book doesn't rely too heavily on world-building, but I really loved the world-building that we did get to learn about. I was really intrigued by the unrest that was happening in the city where Kiela worked as a librarian, as well as the magic-caused storms that are plaguing the island Kiela travels back to. I honestly would have liked to learn a bit more about this world and some more specifics, but I understand that they weren't necessarily needed for this story. However, I still appreciated how much detail Sarah Beth Durst put into this world, including the magical plants, merhorses, cloud bears, and other fun and delightful creatures in this book. I also loved the magic that largely came in the form of Kiela's spells disguised as "remedies," as I always enjoy a magic system based upon recipes and putting spells together. 

I was pleased to see find that the romance actually fit well into the story and didn't feel too overwhelming, In fact, I think it really helped highlight some of Kiela's own personal development in a way that fit nicely into the story. All of the characters, in fact, have great dynamics with Kiela and each seem to impact her own development in their own unique way. It really made each character feels important to the story and therefore more enjoyable to read about and see in different scenes. I really liked how vibrant the entire cast of characters was and how Durst mananged to bring them all to life in such a purposeful and effective way. 

I also want to note that I listened to the audiobook version of The Spellshop and the narrator did a fantastic job giving life to each characters–especially the delightful plant friends! I would happily listen to anything else Caitlin Davies narrates, as I found her narrative voice incredibly clear and entertaining to listen to. 

I was really sorry to say goodbye to the characters in this book once I hit the last chapter and would love to read more from this world and these characters. I don't think this needs a sequel (and I'm not sure if one is even planned), but I certainly wouldn't say no to one. Overall, I've given The Spellshop 4.25 stars!

*I received a copy of The Spellshop in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

Buy the book: Amazon |


  1. This sounds delightful! I immediately added it to my TBR as soon as I read the description, and your review confirms the lovely impression I had of it from the description! Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia Of Faeries is also on my list :)

  2. This sounds so good, and you've convinced me to pick it up very soon😁