Sarah Painter’s magical prose


Brighton, 1938: Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed. Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse. But danger stalks the hospital too, and she’ll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps. And then there are the things she sees…Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.*

This is the parallel story of Grace and Mina from two very different eras, with different values and beliefs. These two women however, are linked by their emotional crisis’s, and it is this ‘portal’ that brings light to both women. Grace is struggling with her self-worth, her need to be ‘good’ and have status in the form of being a nurse. Mina is lost. She allows herself to be manipulated whilst blinded by the darkness that this brings to her own light. The values of the different eras are surprisingly shackles to them both, and eventually, they both realise they have to do something about this.

This story by Sarah Painter is her first deviation away from the Harper family tales, and is more magically subtle, twinkling in its brilliance rather than pulling rabbits out of hats. Beautiful descriptions and painful recounts of contentious times, Painter has produced an evocative book of both era and emotion.

Although I read the Kindle edition of this book, I was immediately drawn to the cover design conjuring those summer moments when you feel as if you may be looking through gossamer to a different world.

So now let’s delve into the world of the Harper family …


The Garden of Magic published in 2014 by Carina UK

Iris Harper has lived in Pendleford for decades. The local witch is mistrusted by the townsfolk, but that doesn’t stop them from coming to her for potions, spells, and quick fixes. However, time has marched on, and Iris is aware that her days are beginning to fade.*

A beautiful novella prequel which sets the scene for the reader and gives us a significant insight into the sharper gift. Iris is a loveable cranky old lady who has been giving and been cantankerous for most of her life. This is the beginning.

The Language of Spells published in 2013 by Carina UK

Gwen Harper left Pendleford thirteen years ago and hasn’t looked back. Until an inheritance throws her into the mystical world she thought she’d escaped. Confronted with her great-aunt’s legacy Gwen must finally face up to her past.*

Beautifully written and full of “magic”, the familiar story of the outsider returning to her home town with a little twist. Full of apprehension, tension, morals and values, a love story between our protagonist and her past with a pinch of psychological thriller thrown in for good measure.

The Secrets of Ghosts published in 2014 by Carina UK

On her twenty-first birthday Katie Harper has only one wish: to become a real Harper woman. Mystical powers are passed down her family generation after generation – some even call them witches – yet every spell Katie attempts goes disastrously wrong.When her magic does appear, it’s in a form nobody expected and suddenly Katie is thrown into a dangerous new world with shadowy consequences. For the realm of the deceased is not as peaceful as she once thought. The dead are buried with their secrets and only Katie can help the ghosts of the past finally find peace.If that is what they are looking for…*

This was an enchanting and easy read. With prose that flowed from late teenage angst to the pains of a couple seeking parenthood. The reader is led into the world of ‘seeing’ ghosts in a subtle and believable manner. We already know the Harpers have magic – the herb mixing and instinct kind, so the extension of ‘powers’ that take us to the other side is not such a huge leap. What I did like about the whole ghost thing, was Painter’s own perspective of life on a different plane – something unique and thought provoking. I came to like Katie and even Max, the loveable rogue who wasn’t such the rogue. What I found enjoyable was the added feature of psychological tension woven through the emergence of aspects of the story.

Book cover design is by the wonderful creative team at the boutique imprint of Harper Collins, Carina UK.

Other reviews of Sarah Painter here.

*Synopsis from


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