“The Vine Witch”

Luanne G. Smith

I feel like I should write an individual recommendation of this book to some of my friends that work in the wine industry. To me, having absorbed a minimum of knowledge of the field via osmosis, it feels like the author knows what she’s talking about.

Something about the scale of this book felt really nice. There’s never a “for the sake of the world!” moment; the biggest thing that can go wrong is a crime goes unpunished and a historic vineyard goes out of business. It’s very personal. And the magic feels the same way—the biggest bit of magic anyone has, even historically, seen was a plague that nearly wiped out all the grapes in the valley. No apocalypse, just a local disaster. Small scale; personal. And it’s neat to see magic used not for magic’s sake, but for the sake of craft—not only the titular vine witch, someone who uses magic to help the vintage, but also bakers and brewers. I like seeing things like this, magic not as a “everything is the same but also magic is there!” but magic properly integrated into the world.

The biggest quibble I have with the book is where that integration broke down. Magic is so much a part of this world that having a character who denies its existence just feels… silly. There’s a whole set of laws! Nobody here is even remotely bothering to deny the existence of magic! It’s not a secret by any stretch, so why is it that the “man of science” must categorically deny magic exists? Really, there should be a whole thaumaturgy department at the university in the big city, studies of how magic integrates with natural law…

But that quibble fades over the course of the story, and I found myself quite enraptured by the end. I suspect this is one of many books I received as a “free with Prime” deal, which is almost certainly no longer on offer, but it’s still worth a read. Check it out.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.