Book Review: Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch by Julie Abe – Our Favourite Witch Returns! Higher Stakes and Thrilling Dangers; A Magical Conclusion to Eva’s Story

Synopsis:

From this day forward, we will believe in the impossible.

Eva Evergreen has fulfilled her dream of earning the rank of Novice Witch, and discovered the chilling truth behind the mysterious Culling — the violent magical storm wreaking havoc across Rivelle Realm.

Revealing the truth, however, proves to be a difficult task and soon the culprit is at large. To make matters worse Eva learns what might be the horrible truth behind her pinch of magic and her mother’s own mysterious connection to the Culling and rogue magic.

With her spirits at an all-time low, Eva must muster up the courage to prove her mother’s innocence and learn to believe in her own magic, if she wishes to put a stop to the Culling once and for all.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Early last year, I had the privilege of reading Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch, a story about a witch who, with only a pinch of magic, endeavours to follows her dreams (and her mother’s footsteps) of becoming a witch of her own right. Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch was delightful, wholesome, and just so much spectacular fun that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. And then, you have the sequel, Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch, which surprised me in more ways than one and elevated the story to new thrilling, dangerous, yet hopeful heights.

Taking place immediately after the events of Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch – and I recommend reading the two back to back! – Evalithimus “Eva” Evergreen, alongside her trusty flamefox companion, Ember, is thrust into a race against the clock of saving towns across the realm from the violent storms, known as the Culling. When an accident and tragedy strikes, Eva must find her courage and use her creativity to uncover the truth behind the Culling – or there may not be a realm to save.

Without spoiling what happens in the first book, Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch takes on a darker and more serious tone compared to its predecessor. Whilst the first book took us to the enchanting and peaceful coastal town of Auteri, where Eva had to grapple with her pinch of magic and help the town (all while making forever-friends), Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch takes once again takes us on an adventure, but one with a tone of greater and more perilous urgency. The mounting dangers and implications of the Culling begin to take their toll on the realm and the wizards and witches trying to protect it, and I was intrigued by where the story would go – and I was not disappointed.

The sequel is certainly more thrilling than the first – there’s more dangerous and malicious magic afoot, and there are also some wonderfully creepy (but not too creepy for young readers!) parts of the story that were exciting. Similarly to the first book, the magic in this is absolutely enchanting – I loved the rhymes and whimsy, and the magic in this book will ignite your imagination – but in this book, we see how magic can have a dangerous and powerful potential too. In my interview with Julie last year, she talked about how the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami shaped Eva’s story. I felt those influences; felt the grief, the loss, and the feelings of hopelessness against such a destructive force. Knowing this and understanding the context of what Eva is up against and does her best to fight, I felt connected to Eva’s spirit and desire to protect and help others in a time of unprecedented loss.  

What pulls me into Eva Evergreen’s stories is just how empowering and wonderful they feel. Eva is a likeable character, and even more so in this book where she perseveres and confronts very real and tough challenges that, even as an adult, I felt worried for her. Importantly, Eva isn’t exactly a ‘powerful’ witch in the conventional sense within the world. Rather, Eva is a young witch who makes plenty of mistakes but ultimately endeavours to do the right and next best thing. I love that young readers will have Eva, this wonderful character, who is not perfect but is doing her best to navigate a world that feels much bigger than she is. I also loved that the narrative and storytelling acknowledges that the challenges Eva faces in the story – and in extension, the challenges we may face in life – will be hard, but we can accomplish anything with determination and the will to do good and help others.

At the heart of this book, Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch is about how far you would go to save the person that you love and how even the smallest and youngest of people can do good. The story explores parent/guardian-child relationships more, and we also get to see more of Grand Master Nelalithimus Evergreen (whom I endearingly love to call Mama Evergreen) and the mother-daughter relationship with Eva. Davy and Charlotte, Eva’s best friends that she made in Auteri, make a return, and I loved the unconditional love and friendship between the three of them, and the mysteries of their parents’ disappearances are resolved in this book. Ultimately, Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch is a story about love and the things we would do for the ones we love.

MY CONCLUSION: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

A wonderful sequel and conclusion to the Eva Evergreen series, Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch is an imaginative, thrilling, and empowering story about the importance of spirit and love. Eva Evergreen is a series that I will, without a shadow of a doubt, return to one day if ever I need a pick me up or to remind myself that hope exists and is persistent. I loved this book, loved the series, and will miss going on adventures with Eva and Ember.

Is this book for you?

Premise in a sentence: Following from the previous book, a young witch must uncover the mystery behind the violent storms wrecking the realm.

Perfect for: Readers who love adventure stories; readers who love to read about young witches; readers who enjoy character-driven stories.

Think twice if: You’re not a big fan of middle-grade books.

Genre: middle grade fantasy

Trigger/content warning: mentions of death of a loved one, unwell parent, depictions of devastating natural disasters, supernatural beings (ghosts)

Goodreads | Indiebound | Book Depository | Bookshop | Amazon | My short review on Goodreads

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch by Julie Abe – Our Favourite Witch Returns! Higher Stakes and Thrilling Dangers; A Magical Conclusion to Eva’s Story

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