Augusten Burrows is a witch. Toil & Trouble is the chronicle of his 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.
It's called Toil & Trouble but Bait & Switch is more like it. Despite a title that references the cauldron speech in Macbeth, a pre-Halloween release date and marketing that positions it as the book in which Augusten Burroughs comes out as a witch, Toil & Trouble is just barely about witching ... Whatever you want to call the small revenges against enemies and covert attempts to convince his husband to move, they make for an uneventful but amusing book that carves out territory somewhere in between Burroughs' painful early memoirs and the humorous, domestic essays of David Sedaris.
The author has always displayed a talent for sharing sometimes-grim personal dramas with a keen whimsical flair. Unfortunately, the balance is never quite achieved here; the dramatic moments are softly conceived while his narrative often swings in a broader comedic direction. Though the author’s witch revelation feels authentic, some elements of the story undermine the gravity of his tale ... Though we see Burroughs and Christopher struggle through potential hardships, including a tornado and illness, these often feel like contrived plot points allowing for further witty indulgences ... An amusing foray into the witchy realms of Burroughs’ life that lacks the depth of previous memoirs.
...whimsical but thin ... In adulthood, a series of spells enable [Burroughs] and husband Christopher to move from Manhattan to a dream house in rural Connecticut, and the book is at heart an affectionate, gently humorous portrait of their neurotic version of domestic tranquility, told through picaresque anecdotes sometimes tangentially related to magic ... The material is sometimes funny and touching, but too often it’s mundane ... Burroughs’s fans will love his comic riffs, but others may not fall under the spell of this uninvolving saga