It’s inevitable that my love of YA and magic will culminate in a love of witchy high school YA. It’s September, and schools are all back in session now, however that looks. High school is innately chaotic and often leaves one feeling powerless, and, witch persecution across time tends to look like how bullying can play out, so this blend is perfect for me. I tend to see more peer drama and bullying in middle school in my work, but, in high school, kids are coming much more into their powers and their identity. Powers are much less believable on a sixth grader than they are in a high school junior.
I also have books I read on witchy teenagers, but the high school context in these plays more of a role than it does in some of the other teen witches I have read about. Interestingly, my witch books this year are so much about persecution at a time where I feel than anything different in this country is persecuted. Hunts for those who are different and who have power that maybe they aren’t “supposed” to.
On a personal note, fall is closing in to my world. Autumn began this week, right before my understated wedding anniversary (I don’t know how I managed the same romantic relationship for ten years rolling, but maybe sharing a child and goals and both having our personal stability helps) and the trees are changing color. I also found an excellent wine from one of my usual Basic White Woman brands that really does taste like apple pie.
I’m sure I’ve already said that I used to love fall before I had to manage my adult responsibilities in winter. In a concerted effort to be more in the moment I am going back to loving fall. I won’t worry about what comes after. I will love the moment.
And I’ll actually review now the books I intended:
How to Hang a Witch, Adriana Mather
Sam moves to Salem, MA, to her father’s family home with her stepmother, after her father falls into an inexplicable coma. In her new school she meets the descendants of the original hanged witches and knows that her ancestors had a role in persecuting these women. So, naturally, they bully her, which would be enough, but then she meets a ghost in her home with his own role in the trials. Bad things immediately start happening to the town, and Sam mentions in the story that she has always felt she was cursed, bad things always happened to children who got near her in the past. With the help of the ghost they discover and break the curse of the Salem witches, and she also finds out why she has also felt so cursed through her life.
This kind of book is completely my jam, which is probably why I read three books this time about high school and perpetuated witch curses that get broken. I always like a ghost sidekick to help with the research end of things, and I have to admit that I guessed wrong on who was really behind all the bad events, and clearly I am not going to reveal that here and ruin it. It draws nice parallels between the events of the witch trials and the modern day hysteria, and how these things happen and perpetuate themselves. Bullying happens all across history. And the ending is good and satisfying, things get resolved. It had also been on my TBR forever so I got the audio. You’d think my stash of scary reads would be getting thinner but I seem to find more scary/witchy/magical reads, like all the time, so it never really gets down.
The Graces, Laure Eve
A girl starting a new school after some unspoken bad events and her father disappearing becomes entranced by three teens at her new school who seem to have powers. The blurb says they do have powers, but the actual story, in my opinion, does not make this clear. Anyway. These siblings are from a glamorous, secretive family that are at the heart of many town rumors and of course she is the only kid at school who gets invited into their fold. Their beautiful home and parties. There is allegedly a curse where anyone who isn’t a witch who falls in love with a Grace is destined to death or madness. The girl is floundering, poor, and desperate to feel special and that she belongs somewhere, and that maybe, too, she has powers. So as with all of these setups, things get out of hand unexpectedly with a dark twist at the end.
This hung out on the TBR for a few years after one of my usual hunts for witch books. Because the audio either was not at the library or a price I felt like paying it hung out for a bit, but I needed a book to read while I worked my way through another with listening, and this year’s reading kick is around witches and curses in the high school setting, so this fits right in. The new girl, who renames herself River, has a palpable desperation that makes her a willing friend to the youngest sister who gets her into the group, and the witchcraft part, in my opinion, takes a backseat to a more typical YA new girl plot. The motivations and the desire to be a part of a beautiful, mysterious and glamorous family is very relatable and compelling, as well as my love for a drawn out dark secret. I was strung along wanting to know more about River’s past, and if the magic is real, if the curse is real. The secrets here unravel very slowly, both about River’s past and the Graces. The ending is only somewhat satisfying and I am debating with myself about reading the next one because of course, after all that bating along, it ends on a damn cliffhanger.
Briefly as well, I am finding my spirituality shifting away from writing. Writing was my spirituality but I was always told that I would have a chance to reunite with my intuition when the timing was better for me… and now, it’s coming. And if I can keep staying safe with it, I want it. Someone came into my life to help right before the year changed, and then I found myself reading about tarot and writing (which is completely fascinating to mix these). Fall is an interesting time to investigate one’s power, when the veil is purportedly thinner. I have bought some crystals and the full moon this week…yea, it’s time to pay attention to those things.