Eleanor Wilde is back in Potions Are for Pushovers, a new installment in Tamara Berry’s series that finds the village witch running low on funds and dodging raindrops as her aging thatch roof gives way. Her not-entirely-legitimate business selling elixirs to the townsfolk would be almost enough to keep her afloat, but when neighbor Sarah Blackthorne turns up dead—from poison, no less—Ellie must find the culprit, less as a matter of justice than to keep her own doors open.
Berry (Séances Are for Suckers) has fun with the contradictions at play in Ellie’s life: She’s a fraud, taking advantage of her friends and neighbors, yet they love and accept her as one of their own. Her boyfriend is flush with cash, but she turns down his offers of help even as her roof collapses. The village and its townsfolk are a conundrum as well; the story is contemporary, but the rural English setting makes things feel old-fashioned, adding to the overall charm. When a young girl defies her mother and basically apprentices herself to Ellie without so much as asking permission, it’s not only funny but also moves the story forward in unexpected ways.
For a witch with no real powers, Ellie still has some connection to the paranormal via her dead sister, with whom she communicates. Their exchanges can be humorous but primarily serve as a more serious, grounding subplot to a story that otherwise bubbles along like a hot cauldron.