Book Review – The Hearth Witch’s Kitchen Herbal by Anna Franklin.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. for providing me with a free – temporary – electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley. Although I required their approval, the decision to read this book is my choice and any reviews given are obligation free.

This was a book on plants and their uses I adored! Not only for the herbalism and health side of things but also from the Pagan and Hearth Witch side.

‘The Hearth Witch’s Kitchen Herbal’ starts well, has a good introduction to herbs and how to use them. I want to state now that it focusses mostly on the herbalism side of things. Meaning, although there is a Pagan underlying theme, it doesn’t get in the road of the herbalism side. And, as all good readers know, herbalism doesn’t have to go hand in hand with Paganism. So if you’re interested in a book of herbalism but are not a Pagan, you can still enjoy this book.

There were a few areas I wasn’t 100% in agreement with, but not enough to make me stop reading. Just a difference of opinion, which is fine, because if we all agreed on everything life would be so boring.

I also liked that, besides the usual internal and external herbal remedies that most herbalism books cover, ‘The Hearth Witch’s Kitchen Herbal’ also discusses cosmetic herbal uses. And, no, that doesn’t mean recipes for make-up people. They mean the true use of the word cosmetic, meaning hair rinses, facial scrubs, and skin toners… that sort of thing. And, in this day and age of sensible people trying to move away from plastic, package waste, and synthetic, nasty chemical cleaning products – having a good section on cosmetics was fabulous.

Then, before we get into the herb listings, we touch on the Pagan/ Hearth Witch side of herbalism.

What I also liked about ‘The Hearth Witch’s Kitchen Herbal’ is that the listing of herbs included citations and reference lists. So, if people wanted to follow anything up with the source – it was there to be seen. No hearsay, no old women’s gossip side of things. A wonderful mix of facts, referencing, and citations on herbs, their origins, uses, etc. Unlike other books I’ve recently read. Add to this sciency side of things there was also a hint of the Scott Cunningham Pagan look at herbs. So, to someone who proudly sits in both worlds, it was a good balance between science and faith. A LOVELY balance.

The book ends with some rather good follow up appendixes, to try and cover topics not touched on enough in the main section. Extra herbs, metric to imperial conversions, that sort of thing. So, to me ‘The Hearth Witch’s Kitchen Herbal’ comes across as a well-balanced, highly detailed reference book for anyone interested in herbalism – with or without a need for the reader to be a Pagan.

Book nerd side of things, well there were a few sections I felt the wrong wording was used… but that may have just been me and possibly a dialect disagreement. Plus there were a few typos and the like that slipped through the copyeditors net, such as ‘makes a later’ in shampoo terms, rather than ‘makes a lather’. But, seriously, nothing major. None of us are perfect and I know for a fact my writing is full of similar clangers, so I didn’t give a lower score due to these minor issues.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Again I want to emphasise that you don’t have to be a Pagan to read or enjoy this book. Yes, it may help… but an interest in herbalism is a far bigger factor required by a reader. Faith aside, this is a good book on herbalism that reads in such a way that it would be user friendly to all levels – beginner to experienced followers of herbalism.

An open mind, an interest in herbalism – that is all you need to enjoy this book.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I think I would. I do have a lot of books on herbalism (both mainstream, Pagan and old world like my Culpepper) and they do cover a lot of what is also covered in ‘The Hearth Witch’s Kitchen Herbal’ but the book, the flow of what it is teaching, the layout… it just attracted me in such a way that I could easily see myself adding it to my shelves in paper format. I just need to find more shelves first! 😉

In summary: A good herbalism reference book that finds the perfect balance of science and faith. Highly recommend it.

Until next time,
Janis.

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