The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch
Author: Melinda Taub
Reviewer: Sophia Rose
What I’m Talking About:
When one considers the power and repercussions of magic, is it any wonder that the last woman in the world people want possessing it is the youngest, most irrepressible and irresponsible of the Bennet sisters from Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice? But, indeed this is Lydia Bennet’s chronicle of what happens when fate’s twist makes her a witch of power. Lydia fumble-bumble’s her way through coming of age in this magical variation set in Jane Austen’s world told in a clever journal-style first person narrative.
The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch reads like a teenage girl’s diary. Fair enough, Lydia was just that when she puts pen to paper to share with an unknown reader how her life ended up the way it did starting from the first moment she understood she possessed magic. Melinda Taub does a fabulous job inviting the reader into the mind of Lydia and it feels completely authentic. So authentic, I wanted off the ride not long after starting and this feeling didn’t change for well over half the book. Lydia leaps from one thought to the next like a pinball shot into the game. First she’s in her present time, then she’s back in the past, then she’s off chasing a squirrel, back to the past, a stop in the present, and so on. There were times I wondered what the point in including some parts was.
But, I did a big hang in there and made it past the first half of the book. This is when the reader can look back into the earlier pages of Lydia’s thoughts and begin to see where those loose thoughts that meander on the long route of the plot start to show some ‘ooh, ah-hah’ moments.
In the first half, Lydia is learning just enough about magic from her sketchy Aunt Phillips to be dangerous and yep she lands into some deep trouble soon enough. But, her outlook is sanguine no matter how terrible the situation, the betrayals that stun her, and the unexpected support she receives along the way. It was hilarious getting her thoughts on her sisters, her parents, and all the other people and events that Jane Austen lovers are familiar with from other points of view. Lydia has her faults, but she’s rather clear-eyed about some people her pretty and smart older sisters are not. She knows they think little of her, but loves her family anyway.
I don’t want to spoiler, but there are some clever character decisions that give familiar characters a new role or even a slightly different storyline that would still fall within the perimeters of the original Pride & Prejudice plot trotting along in the distance while Lydia’s side of things is told. I will share one since it occurs in the first chapter. We all thought there were five Bennet sisters, right? Well, we would be wrong. In fact, Kitty is a true kitty- she’s Lydia’s familiar hidden behind an illusion spell.
That second half ratchets up the suspense and has some good action sequences, a few plot twists, and lead to a satisfying finish. I love what Melissa Taub did with her magical worldbuilding. I appreciated that she made magical power require sacrifice so that its no small thing to draw on it for a spell and there are consequences that must be considered when dealing with other magic users who often are not sweet, nice people.
All in all, I am glad to have picked this historical fantasy set in Austen’s world up and appreciate the author giving a fresh face to one- or rather, some- of Austen’s more colorful secondary characters. Whether a reader is new to Austen or not will not matter so do not hesitate if your looking for something a little creative and different for your fall spooky reading.
My Rating: B Liked It — Recommend
About the Book:
A sparkling, witchy reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, told from the perspective of the troublesome and—according to her—much-maligned youngest Bennet sister, Lydia.
In this exuberant reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet puts pen to paper to relate the real events and aftermath of the classic story from her own perspective. Some facts are well known: Mrs. Bennet suffers from her nerves; Mr. Bennet suffers from Mrs. Bennet, and all five daughters suffer from an estate that is entailed only to male heirs.
But Lydia also suffers from entirely different concerns: her best-loved sister Kitty is really a barn cat, and Wickham is every bit as wicked as the world believes him to be, but what else would you expect from a demon? And if you think Mr. Darcy was uptight about dancing etiquette, wait till you see how he reacts to witchcraft. Most of all, Lydia has yet to learn that when you’re a witch, promises have power . . .
Full of enchantment, intrigue, danger, and boundless magic, The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch, has all the irreverent wit, strength, and romance of Pride and Prejudice—while offering a highly unexpected redemption for the wildest Bennet sister.
Release Date: October 3, 2023
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Format(s): hardcover (400 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Blog Tour
PRAISE FOR THE SCANDALOUS CONFESSIONS OF LYDIA BENNET, WITCH
- “Funny and fierce as Lydia Bennet herself, this book mixes witchcraft lore with Austen’s story to make its own unique magic. I’ll never look at Kitty the same way again…” ―Claudia Gray, author of The Murder of Mr. Wickham, a Mr. Darcy and Miss Tilney Mystery
- “Taub’s wit and creativity shines through. . . A delight for both Austen lovers and fans of magical adventure stories.” ―Kirkus Reviews
- “Wildly inventive and utterly addictive. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m now 100% Team Lydia.” ―Julia Quinn
About the Author:
Melinda Taub is an Emmy and Writers’ Guild Award-winning writer. The former head writer and executive producer of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, she is also the author of Still Star-Crossed, a young adult novel which was adapted for television by Shondaland. (She also wrote that thing about the Baroness in The Sound of Music that your aunt likes.) She lives in Brooklyn.