Thursday 1 February 2024


Book review: Spell Bound (Phoebe Winchester #2) by Gretchen Rue

At the end of last year I randomly picked up a copy of Something Wicked by Gretchen Rue and it was everything I wanted from a witchy romcom. The story was set in a very quaint town (think Gilmore Girls' Stars Hollow), it had fabulous characters (which included a fluffy feline wringing its way into the protagonist's life), and an intriguing murder mystery to boot. The book screamed adorable and I was absolutely hooked. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I learned it was part of a series and the second novel would be out in the UK just a few months after I read the first.  

About Spell Bound by Gretchen Rue

It's been seven months since Phoebe Winchester moved to Raven Creek to take over her aunt's tea and book shop – and solve a murder that happened right on her doorstep as she arrived. She's pretty settled in the town; she has a group of friends around her, some of which know about her magical abilities, and she loves working in the shop with her trusty ginger cat Bob by her side. 

But when Phoebe goes to a nearby estate sale to pick up some bargains for the bookshop, she ends up coming across another dead body. This time around the local police are finding it a little too convenient that Phoebe is at the centre of yet another mystery and she's no longer seen as an innocent bystander. So to prove she has nothing to do with this unfortunate death, she puts her investigate hat on and takes matters in her own hands.

My review

I've been hugely obsessed with murder mysteries in recent years, but up until reading Something Wicked I didn't realise my ultimate comfort read would be Agatha Christie meets Gilmore Girls meets Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but it's an utterly perfect mix of genres to keep a story fresh and unexpected. While in the first novel the reader is still getting to know protagonist Phoebe and the quirky town she finds herself in after the death of her aunt Eudora, the second book feels very much like slipping into a favourite pair of comfy PJs. We know the characters and we know the lay of the land – or so we think...

This time around the mystery ventures out to the neighbouring town of Barneswood, which comes with an entirely new group of people to get to know, not to mention a delicious setting: a fancy country estate. The perfect location for a locked-room mystery you may think. This isn't quite what happens (after all, how could our favourite mischievous feline get his paws into the room if it's locked?), but it's pretty close. And I love how the whodunnit this time was a much more complex mystery that put both the characters within the pages and the readers on the wrong foot on more than one occasion.

Although I loved the mystery at the heart of the story, my favourite scenes within the book are actually the more mundane ones where Phoebe works in her shop, pops into the next-door bakery, or ropes in her childhood-friends-turned-handsome-grown-up-men to fix the Victorian mansion she's living in. They all show the great community she's become a part of in Raven Creek and I'm so happy for her that she found such an amazing group of people to support her.

The way author Gretchen Rue describes these moments, however, is anything but boring. This book is SO fun, and while reading I often found myself chuckling out loud. Bob's hilarious escapades in particular cause some memorable moments – and also some of the most heart-warming ones as he lifts the spirits of regulars in the shop. My only minor niggle with Spell Bound is the use of "she released a breath she didn't realise she was holding" (twice). Editors should really pick up on this reading bugbear by now. That aside, this really is a fantastic read; funny, quirky, and so very wholesome.

Romcoms with a witchy vibe are all the rage right now so it can be tricky for a book to stand out when there are many seemingly similar choice on the shelves. However, while the Phoebe Winchester series is maybe not yet the most widely talked about, in my opinion it's the far superior one and everyone should be picking it up! I adore it so much and I want more people to discover the delightful characters roaming around Raven Creek (and I don't just mean Bob, although he's definitely in my top 3).

Spell Bound by Gretchen Rue is published by Aria (an imprint of Head of Zeus) today and you can now buy your copy from your favourite local book shop!

This review for is part of the promo blitz for Spell Bound. Check out the social media channels of the publisher and blog tour organiser Rachel's Random Resources for more reviews and promo posts.

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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