Book Review of Diary of a Witchcraft Shop

by JoHarrington

Can you imagine working in somewhere like Diagon Alley? The shopkeepers of Glastonbury don't need to, they do it every day!

There is something downright surreal about reading a book in the place where it is set.

The scenes lift themselves from the pages into your mind's eye, followed shortly by your actual eye.

I'm mentioned in this book, as are many friends and associates.

Two of them are the authors and, as I read on, I was watching Trevor chatting with customers over the very counter which figures so highly in the narrative.

Image:  Jo Harrington reading Diary of a Witchcraft Shop
Image: Jo Harrington reading Diary of a Witchcraft Shop
Trevor Jones

Occasionally I chuckle out loud.  Often it's an unrestrained guffaw, which draws attention to my now blushing face.  I can imagine all too clearly the anecdotes taking place.

"She's a very good advertizement for the book, isn't she?"  Trevor comments wryly to two young ladies buying spells.

"Yes," replies one and promptly adds a copy to her purchases.

Buy Diary of a Witchcraft Shop by Liz Williams and Trevor Jones

I've been in these shops. I know the people involved. I've witnessed or heard the stories first hand. They are all true.

Entering the World of a Witchcraft Shop

You could do this too, if you just visited Glastonbury, in Somerset, where these true stories took place.

It must be obvious by now that I know the authors of Diary of a Witchcraft Shop

In fact, I spent most of last week staying in their home, eating their food, drinking their mead and gate-crashing their Solstice celebrations.

I may be a little biased, when I say that this is an hilarious and entirely entertaining book.  But I don't think so. 

I found myself drawn into these tales, when I could have been chatting with the authors instead.  ("Unicorn menstrual pads?!"  I asked, as Liz looked up in response to my laughter.  "Yes."  She nodded, sagely.  Been there, got the t-shirt.  And I read on.)  One afternoon, as the photograph at the top of this page attests, I even disdained the wonders of Glastonbury, in order to loiter in the shop and finish it.

Of course, I had to.  I'd grabbed the diary as soon as I'd spied it on the shelf.  Once it was safely in my bag, Trevor had informed me that I was in it.  "But you'll be too embarrassed to sue us."

My mind flitted over a decade of memories.  It alighted on one.  "Oh no!  You didn't put that in there, did you?"

The git just laughed.

I was around the corner in the Blue Note cafe, supping latte and eating halloumi burgers, when I found my name.  It wasn't at all incriminating. But that's no reason not to wind him up. 

Trying to think up a killer one liner with which to assault him in front of his customers, I clambered off the high stool.  Unfortunately, I misjudged the step and the whole seat went clattering, in full view of the diners.

Blood red and highly embarrassed, I quickly relocated around the corner.  I entered the witchcraft shop with a stern expression.  "Your shielding can go too far!"  And Trevor just laughed again (profusely so, when he learned the context).

Image:  Liz Williams in The Magick Box
Image: Liz Williams in The Magick Box
Jo Harrington
Image:  Trevor Jones in The Cat and Cauldron
Image: Trevor Jones in The Cat and Cauldron
Jo Harrington

The Mad, the Bad and the Downright Bizarre

You don't work in a witchcraft shop for long before you have enough stories to dine out on for the rest of your life.

For many people, Glastonbury in Somerset is a place of pilgrimage.  While religions of all shades and hues are represented throughout the town, it is Paganism and New Age spirituality which has claimed the high street. 

The customers wandering through the door of the witchcraft shop range from the knowledgeably experienced to the nervously curious. 

For every person popping in for a bag of herbs or oil for their rites, there are another twenty seeking a wand that does precisely what they do in the Harry Potter films. Then there are the evangelists, the lunatics and the queens of the fairies (plural).

Diary of a Witchcraft Shop recounts some of the more publishable stories surrounding them. They are still outlandish, with quite a few eliciting a WTF?! response, but they actually did occur.  I was assured that many more anecdotes were left out on the basis that nobody would believe them.

The chapters are broken down into months, telling not only of the business side of things, but also living and working in the town itself.

Occasionally, the authors venture out of Glastonbury.  We are taken with them on a tour of London's Knights Templar sites; into Brittany to see golden trees (and get told off by the Lady of the Lake); then over to Ireland to make witchcraft history. 

There's even an insight into the inner workings of the Houses of Parliament.

But mostly the tales that are told took place right over those shop counters in Glastonbury; where Liz and Trevor are already planning volume two.  I, for one, can't wait!

Buy the Kindle Version of Diary of a Witchcraft Shop

The Real Witchcraft Shop

Actually there are two and they are both in Glastonbury town center. They are: The Cat and Cauldron and The Magick Box.
Image:  The Cat and Cauldron in Glastonbury
Image: The Cat and Cauldron in Glast...
Jo Harrington
Image:  The Magick Box in Glastonbury
Image: The Magick Box in Glastonbury
Jo Harrington

Final Word on Arthur Billingdon's Illustrations

I expected Diary of a Witchcraft Shop to be well written.  Liz Williams is better known for her award-winning science fiction writing, while Trevor never shuts up can entertain for hours with his stories.

There was a lovely surprise in the illustrations though.  Artist Arthur Billingdon has peppered the entire book with little cartoons.  They are beautifully observed and just when you've finished tittering over the text, the pictures set you off again.

The diary is a great insight into the lives of people dealing with the spiritual madness of Glastonbury; and the drawn images add to the whole very well.

Check Out More Books by Liz Williams

Except these are her with her Sci-Fi hat on, rather than as a Pagan shopkeeper.

More Articles About This Trip to Glastonbury

It was Trevor who persuaded me to come and visit. This is what happened next.
Glastonbury is the public epicenter of Paganism in Britain. I climbed its mystical Tor for the overnight Midsummer vigil.
There are times when you discover how resourceful you can be. Even by my standards, this one was desperate.
Updated: 07/26/2014, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 08/13/2013

Ensure that the authors are good friends. :)

Jenny on 08/13/2013

How do you END UP IN BOOKS?! That's mad!

JoHarrington on 01/25/2013

I totally recommend both! <3

HollieT on 01/25/2013

I sooo want to go to Glastonbury again, AND I want to read that book! :)

JoHarrington on 07/05/2012

I can practically guarantee that you'll enjoy it, as well as giggling out loud.

Oh! I wish I was eating halloumi burgers. They don't actually deliver. Especially not miles away!

katiem2 on 07/05/2012

Great read, I love it, felt as if I were there enjoying the latte and halloumi burgers. Thanks for taking us into the life and times of you, your friends and the witchcraft shop, it is lovely. I look forward to reading the book.

JoHarrington on 07/04/2012

You would be made very welcome. :) But if you're ever visiting Glastonbury, you'll have to give me some warning to drive down there and meet you. :D

Ragtimelil on 07/04/2012

Now I want to sprout wings and fly over.

JoHarrington on 06/27/2012

I'd love for you to get off your ass and come to Britain! If this book is the lure, then so be it.

I should imagine that a pint of Love Monkey ale and a glass of wine would secure you signatures from both. Both perhaps not at the bottom of contracts...

Shonna on 06/27/2012

So...I suppose now I've got to get my arse across the pond and get my own copy, eh? I shudder to think what it'd take to get a signed one *snicker*

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