In the spirit of Cecelia Ahearn and Regina McBride, a lighthearted and relatable debut novel about an advertising copywriter who upends her ordinary life and captures the attention of the world after publishing a seven-part treatise on the existence of fairies. Kate McDaid thought that going to the reading of her great-great-aunt's will would be just another non-event in her ordinary life. A junior copywriter at an advertising agency in Dublin, she was used to spending her days wrangling clients, over-indulging in chocolatey products, and whiling away nights at the pub with her best friends, using her trusty bicycle to get around town. Instead, Kate finds out that the will and her aunt (also known as the Red Witch of Knocknamee) dictates that Kate must publish a series of strange poems called
If there was ever a book which made me want to run away to Ireland and play among the faeries – it would be Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill.
Kate McDaid’s life so far has been fairly normal. She has a job as a copywriter and hopes for career progression. Her parents are loving and she has a great group of friends. On her twenty-sixth birthday, Kate gets a letter which changes her life from her great great-great-great aunt Kate McDaid, a self-proclaimed witch who has been dead for 130 years. The letter seems harmless enough. Post a bunch of letters, one per week for seven weeks, to earn her inheritance. But Kate couldn’t have predicted the impact the letters would have on the world.
Reluctantly Charmed is a delightful novel full of adventure and magic. Kate was a great character to follow was she set off on a journey she never expected to take. Not really believing in magic, following her great-aunt’s instructions seems harmless. But releasing the letters to the public causes Kate to become an instant celebrity. Dealing with fame whilst trying to prove she’s good at her job, find a suitable life-mate and live her life is hard – especially when she achieves almost an almost cult-like status.
But throughout it all, despite the drama and complications following her great-aunt’s instructions, Kate remains a charming character. She’s likeable and her problems at the beginning of the novel are entirely relatable. Her enduring crush on a singer, trivial office politics and general day-to-day dramas render Kate as incredibly down to earth. When her world gets a little more magical, Kate remains practical and is amazingly level-headed despite the presence of paparazzi and fan clubs hanging out on her front lawn. The magical realism incorporated in this novel worked wonderfully. And the romance was delivered perfectly. The interactions between Kate and her leading man are a great combination of romance, comedy and misunderstanding. I loved it.
The setting is perfect for this book. Ireland shines throughout Kate’s journey from the city to the country. And what I liked most about the Irish setting is it didn’t feel overly stereotypical nor token. This is a book which could not have worked anywhere else and the country is integral to the story.
I was charmed by Reluctantly Charmed and adored this debut novel by Irish-Aussie Ellie O’Neill. The story was fun and interesting with well written, endearing characters. Perfect for fans of fun contemporary romance stories with just a dash of magic.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster Australia for the review copy.