A wonderful debut novel that introduces us to the concept that there are covens of witches who only have their powers during the month of October. The limitation having been placed centuries before after a falling out of the two sisters, who were the first witches, called Merlyn and Morgan. The heroine of this story is Clemmie, who has just reached the point where she comes into her powers as part of the Merlyn coven; this is made up of her mother and several aunts, as well as her cousin Mirabelle and they are somewhat quirky. The Morgan coven on the other hand is a larger group and led by the arrogant and power-hungry Aunt Morgan; these covens only meet on one night of the year, at the beginning of October, when they regain their magic and young witches are made. This year both covens are trying to extend their powers to the rest of the year, but they have very different ways of going about this. The question is whether either group will succeed and will they learn what really happened at the beginning.
This is a fascinating concept for a story and makes the reader ask so many questions about the idea of family. The two covens have very different attitudes to this, with the Merlyns being very down to earth and concerned about nature and keeping the family together. The Morgans, on the other hand have a strong centralized leadership, with the leader being callous even to her own children and making us glad she is not related to us. However, this is also a story of people trying to come to terms with the powers that they have been given and we see this particularly with Mirabelle, who had a bad experience in her first year and misses her mother (who goes away every October). The underlying links to Arthurian legend are fascinating and I love the fact that Merlyn is shown as a female, rather than the usual old man; although the Morgana link seems much closer to the character in the myths. I was also delighted to hear that the author is to write two more books in this series and can’t wait to see where these lovely characters go.