"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.
I'm a long-time Augusten Burroughs fan, and Toil & Trouble: A Memoir is the kind of engaging, funny, eccentric, likable book that I would expect from him.
Look, I'm not going to debate the existence of witches or witchcraft, but I found Toil & Trouble: A Memoir to be pretty compelling. His stories that involved his magical abilities were interesting, but it isn't his talent that made the stories so wonderful, but the way he told the stories. I could listen to some of those stories for hours, just read them or have someone read them to me over and over again, and I don't think I would ever get tired of them.
Unlike many of his previous books, Toil & Trouble: A Memoir doesn't have any sad components. Maybe some scenes were melancholy, but the rest of the book was just a fascinating tale of his move to rural Connecticut with his husband. And, yes, he made that a thousand times more interesting that it sounds when I type it out.
His skills in describing people are genius. I wanted to meet the characters in the story, and just be a fly on the wall for some of the interactions. I actually laughed out loud at times. The book isn't funny, but some of the scenes are so absurd that you have to laugh.
I found the whole thing to be charming and believable, even the witchy parts, and I just enjoyed myself the whole way through. I would read a chapter a day, almost as a palate-cleanser between other books, and it always made me feel good.
Go in with an open mind and you won't be disappointed.
*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
Enjoy, my friends!