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Publisher's Summary

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The L Word in this fresh, sizzling New York Times best-selling rom-com by Lana Harper.

Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one - in part because she hasn't been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams. 

But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She's determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.

On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov - an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts - who is fresh off a bad breakup...with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden - unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?  

But most concerning of all: Why can't she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?

©2021 Lana Harper (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Dear Listener,

What was my favorite part about writing this story?
"While so much of Payback’s a Witch came straight from the heart, it was diving into the magical town of Thistle Grove and bringing it to life that brought me the most joy. Thistle Grove is loosely modeled after the infamous Salem, Massachusetts—a charming, witchy tourist trap of a town that I used to visit nearly every weekend back when I lived a stone’s throw away in Marblehead. There, I got to experience things like vampire balls, casting circles, haunted houses, hot chocolate shops, and natural perfume and herbalism stores owned by real witches. The four family demesnes are also based on some of my favorite things. The Blackmoores have Castle Camelot, which is meant to be a cross between a medieval manor and a renaissance faire, but make it massive. The Avramovs have the Arcane Emporium and its adjoining haunted house, which is modeled after immersive theater experiences like Sleep No More in New York City. The Thorns have Honeycake Orchards, which might just be an enchanted version of the Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts. Finally, the Harlows have Tomes & Omens, an indie bookstore specializing in rare and arcane books, which I based on Salem’s many occult bookstores." – Lana Harper, writer of Payback's a Witch

Critic Reviews

Payback’s a Witch is the book I’ve been waiting for all my life. A sexy, funny, charming romp of novel that scratches that witchy, autumnal itch just right. I read this story in one breathless, giggling sitting, and at the first fall nip in the air, I know I’ll be reading it again. One of my favorite reads in years.”—Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read 

Payback's a Witch is like the first Halloween wind through the corn: brisk, breezy, and altogether refreshing.  This is a sweet, charming read, absolutely designed to be enjoyed on a crisp fall evening. I want to go to Thistle Grove. My greatest regret about this book is that it isn't a five-season TV show that I can already sit down and just binge.”—Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author

"A sexy, charming, and completely magical romance full of sparkling dialogue and loveable characters. Emmy’s quest to find out where she belongs is so relatable, with some spells and supernatural elements included to spice things up. And Emmy’s hometown, Thistle Grove, is so enchanting that I found myself wishing I could plan a visit! Reading Payback's a Witch is like curling up with a big mug of cider on a perfect autumn day.\"—Kerry Winfrey, author of Very Sincerely Yours

What listeners say about Payback's a Witch

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I need more

this was very good and easy to listen too. I need a second book tomorrow.

6 people found this helpful

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An interesting listen

I feel like this book left a lot to be desired. The writing has very strong thesaurus vibes, there are similes for days, and the descriptors for certain people/places/things went on forever or were completely unnecessary. “Petal pink sashimi”? Really? I totally recognize the gothic lit inspiration, but it ended up falling flat against the modern wording used in conversations. All of that filler could have been replaced by more backstory or interaction between the secondary characters. I would have loved to hear more about Emmy’s dad or Gareth’s backstory. We can’t have a “villain” that just bumbles around and breaks everyone’s hearts without understanding what the appeal is. How did three smart girls fall for a two dimensional character like Gareth? He seems like a dweeb. A good looking dweeb, but a dweeb nonetheless.

I also found that the narrators voice was not right for this story. Jeremy nailed Talia’s voice, I have to give her that, but the intonation and the flow of sentences just took me out of the story too many times. The British accent just didn’t sound right either.

That being said, I love all things witchy (hocus pocus in my formative years, obv) and I always love LGBTQ+ romance written about with no stigma attached to it from other characters. Bisexuality is often overlooked in literature and it’s always refreshing to see.

3 people found this helpful

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Fun listen, unique story. Would love to see as a show.

I really enjoyed this book. I was mentally casting the characters the entire time as if it was a show haha. I found myself really looking forward to my commute to be able to listen and lose myself in this witchy world. The narrator read just slightly too fast IMO which kept taking me out of the experience. Luckily the option to slow down narration speed is available. Plus slowing down made talias lines 10x more dreamy. Unique plot and fun characters. Some incredibly painfully cheesy lines from time to time that tried to incorporate outdated slang when wasn’t necessary at all. Luckily there was only a handful of lines every few chapters. Still made me have major second hand embarrassment. The exchange from Lynn to talia in the last chapter “congratulations to the whole fam. No shade…” “…being salty…” it just didn’t fit in at all with any of the other dialogue etc.
While I wish there were more LGBTQ characters but I enjoyed that there wasn’t any sort of typical questioning from friends or family when two same sex characters got together unexpectedly.

2 people found this helpful

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Boring

I found this book incredibly boring. The narrator made Tallia’s voice ridiculous- forcing it to be over the top “sexy”
Back to the story. There were opportunities to take it deeper but everything in this book was so surface level. Felt very superficial, like listening to junior high kids trying to date. Hard to believe this was written about adults.

2 people found this helpful

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beautifully written!

From start to finish the imagery created by this author is breath-taking. The prose carries the reader into such a whirlwind of plot, emotion, scene, setting and character development (especially of our heroine), it's impossible to put down.. As a new fan, I am relieved to see Book 2 is available for preorder now. Oh, just in case this is selected for your book club, there is a thorough set of discussion questions at the end. I love this book!

2 people found this helpful

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Best book for some righteous revenge and new beginnings!

This is like if the main character of every young adult series that romanticizes a toxic relationship. Picture Bella getting retribution over Edward. Buffy calling out the truth about Angel and Spike. Hermione not tolerating Ron’s selfish behavior?

After years of being away, Emmy returns to her magical hometown. She’s to referee a magical competition between the family’s that founded the town. It’s only held every fifty years, so super big deal.

The main champion of the tournament. The one everyone assumes is going to win. That guy is the evil ex that drove her away in the first place. You know that selfish ex that you can’t believe you tolerated?

It’s a great story of facing the fears of your past and seeing how little power they actually have. It’s about healing old wounds, reconnecting with friends, and reigniting that spark for a new beginning.

Walk with Emmy as she finally goes and gets the vindication she’s been waiting for.

Also magic!!!!

1 person found this helpful

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Good book

This was a fun book to listen to and enjoy the story. It’s not deep and reminds me of Hallmark movie with a twist. Recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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All the Halloween Witchy Vibes

This had all of the Halloween witchy vibes with a delightful bi romance. The Emmy and Talia have such great chemistry that you just can’t help hoping they will somehow, despite it all, that they'll end up together. I've seen other reviews comparing this to "John Tucker Must Die" and the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and that is 100% accurate. The revenge pact plot line was hilarious.

I felt that this book was perfectly balanced between the romance and the paranormal/magical elements. It's the true embodiment of a romantic fantasy. And the worldbuilding was spot on. Absolutely phenomenal. The setting, the way the magic in this book works and interacts with all of the characters, and all of the magical history of the town itself and the four founding families. I loved every second of it. Especially that the four families were somehow descended from the likes of Baba Yaga and Morgan Le Fay.

The setting of this story also shines brightly. This is the kind of book that you just ache to step inside. It reminded me heavily of Salem, MA. The gorgeous colors of the leaves changing, the perfect cool but sunny days, the scent of autumn in the air, and the kitschy witchy shops and restaurants. I wanted to go there an experience it for myself. I can't wait for book two so that I can delve back into this world.

1 person found this helpful

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What happened to the dog!?

This story was okay. the idea is solid, but the writing was only subpar and had me cringing at times when things became obviously contrived. but the most annoying thing was the dog. the story starts off with this adorable dog that is almost familiar in description. and then.. the dog is almost never mentioned again. like, where was this dog? just chilling with her mom?

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so cute!

This book was a fun Halloween read. I really enjoyed this and I liked the narrarator.

1 person found this helpful