The Honey Witch, by Sydney J. Shields

25 Jun 2024

The Book

The Honey Witch
Pages: 368
Age Group: Adult
Published on 14 May 2024
Publisher: Orbit Books
Available on:


The Honey Witch of Innisfree can never find true love. That is her curse to bear. But when a young woman who doesn’t believe in magic arrives on her island, sparks fly in this deliciously sweet debut novel of magic, hope, and love overcoming all.

Twenty-one-year-old Marigold Claude has always preferred the company of the spirits of the meadow to any of the suitors who’ve tried to woo her. So when her grandmother whisks her away to the family cottage on the tiny Isle of Innisfree with an offer to train her as the next Honey Witch, she accepts immediately. But her newfound magic and independence come with a price: No one can fall in love with the Honey Witch.

When Lottie Burke, a notoriously grumpy skeptic who doesn’t believe in magic, shows up on her doorstep, Marigold can’t resist the challenge to prove to her that magic is real. But soon, Marigold begins to care for Lottie in ways she never expected. And when darker magic awakens and threatens to destroy her home, she must fight for much more than her new home—at the risk of losing her magic and her heart.  

My Review

The Honey Witch is a standalone romantasy novel, the debut long form piece of Sydney J. Shields, and published by Orbit Books. A cozy story with a delightful setting, with a witchy romance that is a great example of the grumpy-sunshine dynamic, and an accessible writing style that makes reading it really smooth.

Our main character, Marigold Claude, has never fit into society, preferring the company of spirits than people; when her grandmother offers her to train as the next Honey Witch of Innisfree, even if that comes with the curse of not having love, she immediately accepts, moving to the remote Innisfree. 
There, Marigold feels in place, and also reconnects with certain friendships that she had lost. By the hand of one of those friends, Lottie Burke, a notorious sceptic appears on her doorstep, and Marigold accepts the challenge of proving her that magic is real. Soon, they will find that together with that time, a bond between them has appeared, starting a delicious relationship between two characters that are opposite sides of the coin; but there aren't roses without thorns.

This queer relationship is probably my highlight of the novel; it's a perfect example of a grumpy-sunshine dynamic (you can totally guess who is who), and it's really sweet to see how Marigold tries to garner Lottie's attention and trust. Lottie is a character with many secrets, but slowly, she will open herself to Mari; showing how she has been hurt in the past, and that's a big weight to carry alone.

The setting is charming; cottagecore at its best expression, putting an interesting focus on the honey and the witchery. Shields captures the pressure that women suffered to get into a marriage at an early age, a society where Mari doesn't fit; her grandmother's call is a freedom dream.

I felt the pacing to be slow for my taste; don't get me wrong, slow burn romance is great, but sometimes I find cozy settings to lead to a slow pacing. The writing is really accessible, making the prose flow seamlessly, and creating a book that is compulsively readable.

In conclusion, The Honey Witch is a great book if you are looking for a cottagecore proposal with a slow-burn queer romance; you will enjoy it more if slower pacings are your motto. A solid debut by Sydney J. Shields!

The Author/s

Sydney J. Shields

Sydney J. Shields

Sydney J. Shields is a swamp creature who evolved to hold a pen. She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Columbus State University where she majored in Communication. She currently lives in Savannah, Georgia with her partner and their dog. When not writing, Sydney can be found playing chess in the park, savoring afternoon tea, or doing any other activities that an 84-year-old soul trapped in a 25-year-old body would enjoy. You can find her across social media @SydneyJShields.