Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $19.95

Buy for $19.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

After a life of hurt and disappointment, Raya, the spiky-haired, Doc Marten-wearing 14-year-old decides it’s time to strike out on her own. She leaves the boring English village and what she's determined will be her last foster placement for the excitement of London. But it turns out she’s a witch, with the annoying habit of time-traveling - by accident. And a sarcastic witch’s cat Oscar tags along for the ride. Why would she fling herself into the midst of the Essex Witch Trials in 1645 England? 

After being arrested by one of history’s most notorious witch hunters, her social worker and witch mentor Bryony goes back to try to save them from the gallows. But returning to present day London remains out of reach when they find themselves in Istanbul in the year 1645. There, life is more amazing than she ever dreamed. Can she stay? And at what cost?

©2015, 2017 Sara Pascoe (P)2019 Sara Pascoe

What listeners say about Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    0
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    0
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    0
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A coming-of-age with a difference, and a cat

Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For by Sara Pascoe is the story of Raya, a fourteen-year-old girl who feels somewhat adrift in the foster system following her mother's psychosis and the loss of her grandparents. When Raya's perception of reality begins to falter and she starts hearing impossible things like cats talking, Raya believes that her worst fears are coming true and she is losing her mind as her mother did. Attempting to outrun the monster inside her head, Raya begins a journey that will test her resilience, her loyalty, and her strength, travelling through some of the most dangerous periods of history and learning to control her developing powers...

This book first piqued my interest because I assumed (due to the shared spelling and a categorisation-error), that this book was written by British comedian, Sara Pascoe, whose book Animal I had previously enjoyed. Despite discovering that it was actually written by a completely different - and much more American - Sara Pascoe, I was not disappointed.

Being A Witch is a fun, colourful, story which remains lively and engaging throughout. The protagonist, Raya, is angry at a world she feels has rejected her, and she is determined that her attitude will remain as spiky as her hairdo! Like most teenage girls, Raya is a bit of a brat, and thinks that she knows everything. Little does she realise how much she still has to learn, especially in a world full of 'Integrators'; people who practice magic, read minds, see futures, and can travel through time and space. I very much enjoyed watching Raya's powers develop, but I would have liked there to be more explanation about how and why witches became known as Integrators, and when magic became known to the human world. It would have helped add to the world-building a little, and given a little context to Raya's initial incredulity.

I loved Raya's companion, witches' Familiar, Oscar the cat. A sarcastic New Yorker with a tongue as sharp as his claws, Oscar reminded me a little of Salem - my favourite character from the 90s TV series Sabrina the Teenage Witch. This helped endear me to Oscar early on, and I welcomed his unwilling presence during their travels through the Essex Witch Trials and out into the Ottoman Empire. I was less fond of the Social Worker, Bryony, who was painted as being well-meaning but rather hapless, which (as the daughter of a former Children and Families Social Worker), is a stereotype I have seen a lot in the media but doesn't represent the passionate - if often a little bit bonkers - people I grew up watching as they tried to make a difference. I appreciate that she had to be a bit incompetent for Raya to step up and discover her own potential, but I would have liked Bryony to have a bit more chutzpah! The rules governing time travel suitably tied her hands in Istanbul, and it would have been nice if we'd seen Bryony's character develop as Raya grew up a little and stopped seeing her as yet another adult who would let her down.

Raya's emotional journey as she finally found a makeshift family and learnt to accept love and support was an important lesson, and one which would - I think - make this book an exceptional candidate for a future AudiobookSYNC summer program. It's a book with a great message and a strong young woman at the helm. It doesn't shy away from difficult subjects such as mental health, death, and racism, though I must say that some of the racist language used to demonstrate the discrimination felt by a local Indian shopkeeper was quite shocking. It's fortunately not a word one hears as frequently these days, but it helps Raya to realise how far she has come and how far others still have to go.

On the subject of language, Raya discovers that she can speak Turkish when she arrives in Istanbul with Oscar and Bryony. I adored the description when she begins to use the native language, and she muses that "the words danced along her tongue and made her lips do new tricks". This sentiment was also embodied by the narrator, Fiona Hardingham, who performed the book wonderfully. She had a lovely tone to her voice and brought each character alive with distinct personalities and an array of convincing accents. I very much enjoyed listening to her, and would look out for other books she has read.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes YA urban fantasy, strong heroines, and lively storytelling. Though it was a stand-alone story in most respects, it felt as though it could be the first book in a series and I certainly hope that the author plans more.

*I received this audiobook free of charge from Audiobookworm Productions in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

where to start . . .

Where to start? The time travel was fun and landed this young lady in some interesting historical places and times. Some were filled with trouble. Others just a little adventure. Raya was a character that my younger children were able to enjoy with each installment of this audio we listened to before bed.

The narrator Fiona held up her end of the narration. It was clear. The voice was appealing to children and held their attention.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For

What would it take to prove something was real when you absolutely did not believe in it for one minute? Like vampires? Werewolves? Another world? What about magic and witches? If you add that on top of the fact that they can time travel…then you are definitely on the right track. What would make them believable for you though? Say—if you accidentally traveled to an entirely different country and time—and you had to figure out where you were before anything bad happens or anyone notices that you don’t belong? Yep, that would certainly do it! Pascoe engages the reader with a bridge into the young adult and paranormal time travel genres. This story has a lot of interesting concepts of what being a witch might entail.

Raya is a young girl in modern day London. After seemingly failed attempts within the foster care system, she decides that she would be better off on her own. Except—there is this little problem—she is a witch. Not believing a word of it seems to be the easiest way to handle her dilemma; however, her accidental time-travel tendencies seem to think sending her back to the Essex Witch Trials would be a blatant way to prove her wrong. Not only does she accidentally travel back to the time period where witches are tried and persecuted out of fear, all sorts of women and children—who are not witches—are being accused based on circumstantial accidents of their own. Raya and a tag-along cat named Oscar must figure out how to get back home before things go really wrong—like losing her head. As if that wasn’t enough, they are transported to Istanbul with the help of social worker and witch mentor, Bryonny only to find that they’ve left one war zone for another. Picking up a few friends along the way, Raya must race against time to find a way for her and her friends to travel back home—back to safety.

Pascoe has one interesting tale of time travel and fascinating characters; however, there are a couple of flaws with the story-telling. First and foremost, the character development is fascinating and Pascoe spins an original twist on the meaning of time travel. Since the main character is a teenager, the reader would assume that this would be either a middle grade or young adult novel—yet, there is foul language and derogatory language throughout the read—which may not be suitable for this audience. The character differentiation was entertaining and distinct; however, Hardingham was very fast-paced within the first half of the novel which blurred scenes together and fails to deliver any emotion other than urgency. Her pace does even out a little throughout the remainder of the story if the reader sticks it out until then, but the beginning could cause readers to lose interest quickly. This book is recommended for new adult and those who enjoy the time travel or historical fantasy genre.

An audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a three-star rating to Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn’t Ask For by Sara Pascoe.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 10-12-20

Brilliant

Loved the book. Narration was really good and clear. Will be reading more Sara Pascoe

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-16-19

Fun but disjointed

A fun listen aimed at young readers. However the story is rather chaotic and there are lots of plot holes that are never resolved.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Fee
  • Fee
  • 05-03-19

Being a Witch

The Story:
Being a Witch follows Raya a 14 year old girl who has had a life time of disappointments and life in foster care. Her mother is schizophrenic and when Raya starts seeing things she figures she has schizophrenia like her mother and doesn’t know what to do, but she soon discovers that she is actually a witch – which explains why she can hear the cat talking! She runs away from her current foster home and meets as homeless man who can hear her thoughts. From this point this is where she discovers she is a witch and meets other like her, but this is also where it takes a strange turn! Raya somehow manages to time travel with Oscar the Cat and Bryony (her social worker who is also a witch) to old London and then again to Istanbul in the same time frame.

I have to admit I got confused at first – as we were plodding along in the present and them bam we are back in time. with Raya thinking it was all a dream. I did love the element of time travel and Pascoe really got the the timeline down though there some elements of modern day speak involved that wouldn’t have been around then, but apart from that it was spot on.

The pace of the story was a little all over the place – it would go slow then pick up only to slow again.

The Narrator:
Fiona Hardingham did a wonderful job at bringing this story to life. She flowed with ease between characters and accents nailing them all. We had New York for the cat and then all the way to Turkey! The audio was flawless and flowed evenly with no background noise etc.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for DabOfDarkness
  • DabOfDarkness
  • 04-10-19

Don't be fooled by the cover - it's a worthy story

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. The story grabbed my attention from the beginning and held it all the way through. Raya was a very interesting character even if I sometimes thought she was a little snot. The story starts off in a modern England where witchcraft is an acknowledged gift or condition (it’s called being an Integrator) but not everyone has embraced this. Raya is one of them. She’s struggling with it since her mom had a serious mental illness. Instead of chatting with someone about it, she runs away and right into trouble.

Luckily, Oscar (a delightfully opinionated cat) sort of adopts her and helps navigate her to a relatively safe place. But child welfare services tracks her down eventually, and in steps case worker Bryony again. Raya is very stressed out and then her young friend Jake goes missing and it all becomes a bit much and ‘poof’! She’s suddenly in the past by a few hundred years, at the time and location of a big witch hunt (Essex Witch Trials).

So, this modern-day fantasy adventure turns into a time travel adventure tale, which worked just fine for me. The pace was fast to begin with and I did worry it might slow down with the time travel, but it stayed moving at a good clop. I never got bored with the plot. Raya and Bryony barely avoid deep trouble when they accidentally time travel even further back, but this time end up in Istanbul. There, they have a chance to catch their breath a bit and Bryony can give Raya some real witchy training. But don’t worry – more trouble is right around the corner!

Raya struck the right balance between a kid developing into a young adult and bratty teen. There were times that she was so mean to Bryony that I wanted to throttle her myself, but that’s frowned upon. Raya feels that Bryony as an adult should have all the answers, that it’s up to her to save them. Yet Raya also craves independence and to be taken seriously, as an adult would be. Raya does a lot of growing in this book and that was the true gem of the story. All told, 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Fiona Hardingham did an excellent job with this book. I loved her sourpuss voice for Oscar the cat. She was the perfect fit for Raya and I loved her teensy bit frazzled voice for Bryony. She also performed several accents well, from various UK accents, so a kind of New York accent for Oscar to Turkish accents for the characters in Istanbul. The pacing was perfect and there were no recording issues. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Sara Pascoe. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.