Packed full of magic, LGBTQ+ romance, ‘Payback’s a Witch’ perfect for fall

Avery Hough, Life & Arts General Reporter

Packed full of magic and LGBTQ+ romance, “Payback’s a Witch” by Lana Harper provides the perfect literary world to pull readers into the autumn spirit. Unlike other young adult rom-coms, this story digs deeper into the themes of finding one’s identity and home in a complex world. 

Emmy Harlow, a not-so-powerful witch, escaped her hometown of Thistle Grove more than nine years ago. Fleeing a broken heart caused by her ex-boyfriend Gareth Blackmoore, Emmy attempts to start a new life for herself apart from her family lineage. However, Thistle Grove calls her back for a month to fulfill her family’s duty as a referee at a semi centennial tournament where the town’s strongest three families of witches fight for power. 

Forced to face her ex-boyfriend, Emmy finds that he broke the hearts of several other witches in her absence. Teaming up with these scorned women, Emmy joins a revenge pact with her old best friend, Linden Thorn, and a beautiful young witch, Talia Avramov. Together, they decide to ensure Gareth Blackmoore loses the tournament and receives his payback. 

However, Emmy Harlow suddenly finds herself enamored with not only the town she tried so hard to forget, but also by the mysterious Talia Avramov, who seems completely unattainable. Packed with revenge, romance and indecision, the story plays out in just under 400 pages. 

The heart of “Payback’s a Witch” lies in the struggle Emmy goes through to find herself. The magical plot does not cheat the emotional depth of the story. Emmy garners sympathy throughout the book and feels like a true depiction of a lost woman yearning to find herself.

Overall, the romantic progression between Emmy and Talia seems natural and exciting to follow. The scenic town and sensory descriptions provide an immersive feeling. However, the story falls flat with uncomfortable modern lingo. While the plot does feel exciting, it doesn’t have an engrossing, binge-worthy feeling. Still, the novel makes for an enjoyable fall read with a wonderfully unfolding romance. 

3 magical tournaments out of 5