ARC Review – Toil & Trouble by Augusten Burroughs

Title: Toil and Trouble

Author: Augusten Burroughs

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Genre: Memoir

Number of Pages: 320

ceb9a0b1-af5d-4450-83f8-536d414bd1bfSummary: From Goodreads: “”Here’s a partial list of things I don’t believe in: God. The Devil. Heaven. Hell. Bigfoot. Ancient Aliens. Past lives. Life after death. Vampires. Zombies. Reiki. Homeopathy. Rolfing. Reflexology. Note that ‘witches’ and ‘witchcraft’ are absent from this list. The thing is, I wouldn’t believe in them, and I would privately ridicule any idiot who did, except for one thing: I am a witch.”

For as long as Augusten Burroughs could remember, he knew things he shouldn’t have known. He manifested things that shouldn’t have come to pass. And he told exactly no one about this, save one person: his mother. His mother reassured him that it was all perfectly normal, that he was descended from a long line of witches, going back to the days of the early American colonies. And that this family tree was filled with witches. It was a bond that he and his mother shared–until the day she left him in the care of her psychiatrist to be raised in his family (but that’s a whole other story). After that, Augusten was on his own. On his own to navigate the world of this tricky power; on his own to either use or misuse this gift.

From the hilarious to the terrifying, Toil & Trouble is a chronicle of one man’s journey to understand himself, to reconcile the powers he can wield with things with which he is helpless. There are very few things that are coincidences, as you will learn in Toil & Trouble. Ghosts are real, trees can want to kill you, beavers are the spawn of Satan, houses are alive, and in the end, love is the most powerful magic of all.”

Review: I received an advanced copy of this book from the wonderful team at St. Martin’s Press and from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Even though Augusten Burroughs is one of my favourite authors, I was a little bit skeptical going into this book, because I’ve never given much thought into the existence of witches. Fortunately, even though the main theme of this book is witches and witchcraft, it’s about so much more than that.

In this book, Augusten Burroughs talks about his experience of being a witch. He tells the story of when he first discovered this ability, what it was like growing up with it, and times that he’s used his ability in his adult life. These stories are mixed in with stories about buying the perfect house, being a dog owner, having strange neighbours, dealing with addiction, and a quirky handyman who makes excellent pies. These stories were addicting and entertaining, and I had a difficult time putting the book down.

One thing that I liked about this book is that it made me think about witches and witchcraft. Before this book, I didn’t consider myself a non-believer or a skeptic, because I just didn’t consider witches. Now witches are something that I might think about from time to time, and I don’t see any harm in believing that there might be people out there with some kind of magical ability. 

Another reason why I enjoyed this book is that you can read it without being familiar with Burroughs’s other works. Burroughs does refer to things that he discusses in his older works, but he doesn’t leave you lost and confused. If anything, these references make the reader curious enough to go out and pick up his older works.

Overall, this book did not disappoint. It had its funny moments, it had its serious moments, and it was full of the quirky people you’d expect to find in a Burroughs’s book. The witchcraft made the book interesting, and I think this book would be an excellent choice for a book club because the themes could lead to some great discussions.

Rating: 4/5 Stars!

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