Book Review : Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch

Book Review : Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical WitchEva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch (Eva Evergreen, #1) by Julie Abe
on August 4, 2020
Genres: Coming of Age, Fantasy & Magic, Middle Grade, Wizards & Witches
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Sometimes all you need is a pinch of magic...

Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of Novice Witch before she turns thirteen years old. If she doesn't, she'll lose her magic forever. For most young witches and wizards, it's a simple enough test:

ONE: Help your town, do good all around.
TWO: Live there for one moon, don't leave too soon.
THREE: Fly home by broomstick, the easiest of tricks.

The only problem? Eva only has a pinch of magic. She summons heads of cabbage instead of flowers and gets a sunburn instead of calling down rain. And to add insult to injury, whenever she overuses her magic, she falls asleep.

When she lands on the tranquil coastal town of Auteri, the residents expect a powerful witch, not a semi-magical girl. So Eva comes up with a plan: set up a magical repair shop to aid Auteri and prove she's worthy. She may have more blood than magic, but her "semi-magical fixes" repair the lives of the townspeople in ways they never could have imagined. Only, Eva's bit of magic may not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she's grown to love. Eva must conjure up all of the magic, bravery, and cleverness she can muster or Auteri and her dreams of becoming a witch will wash away with the storm.

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch is a delightful cozy fantasy for fans of Studio Ghibli’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and Emily Rodda’s Star of Deltora series. If pure sunshine could be contained in a book, it would look like this. Much like Kiki’s Delivery Service, this middle grade novel follows Evalithimus “Eva” Evergreen as she strikes out alone on her first quest as a witch, one that should she succeed in her missing of helping a town and doing good, will earn her the rank of a novice witch.


“From outside, I could hear the whispers of the crowd. One of the sailors snorted. ‘I’ve never heard of a witch or wizard that’s run out of magic.'”


But Eva isn’t exactly like the rest of her witch community, and struggles to do even the simplest of spells without completely draining herself. Though the witch’s council doubts that she is powerful enough to become a full witch, Eva, proving her cleverness and determination, fights their decision and sets out on her quest. She ends up in the coastal town of Auteri, which hasn’t had a witch help them in ages. Once in Auteri, Eva faces more opposition in the form of the town mayor, who doesn’t believe Eva is capable enough to help her town, let alone to aid them in surviving The Culling, a deadly and supernatural storm that mysteriously arrives every year.


What I really liked about this novel is that Eva never gives up even when the odds are completely stacked against her or when no one believes in her. Despite the doubts of people in the council and the town of Auteri, Eva never stops persisting. With what little magic she has at her disposal, she is forced to make her own semi-magical fixes, determinedly seeking creative solutions to problems that arise. Other witches, like Eva’s super powerful Grand Master mother, could simply wave their wands and come up with a quick fix, but Eva has to use her wit and adaptability to get the same effect. A lot of her fixes are admittedly quirky, using seaweed and paper, and many of the Auteri villagers mock her and her abilities.


“’I may have only a pinch of magic.’ I swallowed. ‘But… well… that might be enough.'”


But Eva, with the help of two new friends and her trusty flamefox, endures their mockery and continues her relentless efforts to help the town in any way she can, overcoming her own niggling self-doubt in the process. She learns to stop being ashamed of the amount of magic she has at her disposal and to embrace what makes the magic she has so special. The novel is incredibly charming, with cute creatures like Ember the flamefox and silly magical spells in the form of rhymes having unintended consequences. To round out Eva, Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch, there are adorable illustrations at the beginning of every chapter, depicting Eva in various stages of her journey. Plus, the messages of the true power of friendship and believing in one-self provide wonderful models to younger readers and a truly heartwarming feeling to audiences of all ages.


For a middle-grade novel, there is also some pretty strong world-building too. Eva’s home town has Japanese inspired roots, with the author herself, Julie Abe, having been born in Japan and raised in the U.S.. Readers learn about the Queen, how she is chosen (and not born), to rule, what the apprenticeship process of a witch is like, and how the council not only governs the community, but also how it chooses to provide aid to the other towns in need. With less witches being born all of the time, the remaining witches are spread quite thin among all of the people needing assistance and the Culling renders the aid of the witches more important than ever before.


The only thing that could have been executed a bit better in Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch is the pacing. The novel spends a good deal of time setting up the world, which is excellent, and then gives us a pretty big look into Eva’s new daily life as the town witch of Auteri. But the novel seems to struggle with balancing the plot elements and character developments, making some of the emotional payoff lacking, at least when it came to Eva’s very fast friendship with Davy and Charlotte, and with her sudden winning over the town’s biggest detractors. I think it would have been beneficial for the novel to be a bit longer, as it practically rushes to what feels like a very abrupt, but exciting, ending.  However, this is a middle-grade novel already clocks in at over 400 pages, so it’s already quite long for a novel with a target audience of eight to twelve year old readers.


Regardless of the length, I enjoyed every minute of this sweet novel—which honestly, has nothing semi-magical about it—it’s pure magic. I hope to pick up the next book in the series in the near future. I wholeheartedly recommend Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch to readers looking for a wholesomely fun and cozy fantasy read with a strong female protagonist, great messages, and oodles of charm.


Book Review : Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch - Blogging with Dragons

Posted June 15, 2023 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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