June 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

2 YA Tales of Some Not-so-Witchy Witches

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Teen witch books aren’t all “hocus pocus” and “eye of newt.” These works present real young women with slightly paranormal problems whom readers won’t be able to get enough of—it’s just bewitching.

Cestari, Crystal. The Best Kind of Magic. 336p. (Windy City Magic: Bk. 1). Disney-Hyperion. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484752722.

YA-SP-Cestari-TheBestKindofMagicGr 7-10 –Amber Sand comes from a family of highly respectable and powerful witches. Except Amber isn’t a witch. She’s a matchmaker, down on the lower end of the supernatural scale. Amber enjoys giving people the news they want to hear—that they will not end up alone—and she works out of her mother’s magic shop. Unfortunately, she can’t see her own perfect match. Not helping matters is her best friend Amani, who can see into the future but won’t give Amber any hints. The mayor’s son, Charlie, asks for her help. His dad’s girlfriend has disappeared. While the mayor wants to find her, Charlie wants to break them up. Amber agrees to help, and they are soon making their way through Chicago’s supernatural world. The teens start to develop feelings for each other, but Amber knows they’re not meant to be. What good is it to date someone when you know you won’t end up together? Though initially this fun read seems to be another cutesy supernatural tale, it also explores the question of fate. Amber is a strong heroine who refuses to back down from bullies and struggles with her relationship with her mother. There is a bit of mystery with the missing girlfriend, but it’s solved well before the end. The conclusion and the characters will leave readers wanting more. VERDICT This is a perfect light summer read and a good addition to most libraries.–Faythe ­Arredondo, Tulare County Library, CA

Oakes, Cory Putnam. Witchtown. 320p. HMH. Jul. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544765573. POP

YA-SP-Oakes-WitchTownGr 7 Up –To Macie, witches do not mean spells and wands. Witches mean money. Macie and her mom, Aubra, make their living fleecing Havens, government-created communities where witches are allowed to practice and maintain their culture. However, 16-year-old Macie is starting to experience moral doubts about their lifestyle, and when the pair arrive at Witchtown, Aubra assures Macie this will be their final con. As Aubra integrates herself into the town, Macie makes friends with the teenage witches and hesitantly begins a relationship with cute boy Kellen, all the while attempting to conceal that she is a Void, an individual with no magical ability. The story is an appealing combination of the paranormal and romance genres, sure to please older “Harry Potter” fans. However, plot inconsistencies detract from the book. The dramatic impact of the reveal of Kellen’s true identity is lessened, as this subplot is only marginally developed. Additionally, Oakes never satisfactorily explains why Voids are such loathsome individuals who are branded and exiled. But overall, this is a creative approach to the witch and wizard genre, and teens will most likely not be deterred by these issues. VERDICT An engaging tale with enjoyable characters. Give to romance fans or those who like their witch books on the lighter side.–Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District, Lancaster, PA

Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.