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Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch

Little, Brown. (Eva Evergreen). Aug. 2020. 400p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316493888.
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Gr 3-7–Fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service will feel right at home in this middle grade fantasy set in Rivelle Realm, where magic is dwindling. Magical late bloomer Eva must complete her first independent mission if she wants to become a witch before her 13th birthday. Not completing the quest comes at a horrible cost—being forever stripped of the little magic she does possess. Eva has a loving family with a magical mother and nonmagical father, yet she cannot help comparing herself to her high-achieving mother, and fears she will never become a successful witch. Eva has a magical condition that causes her to feel physically drained each time she practices, although she knows practice will make her stronger. Her quest leads her to coastal Auteri, where she faces skepticism from community leaders, garners the support of a town sponsor, makes a frenemy-turned-friend, and establishes lasting relationships with small business owners as she practices her magical specialty: repair work. Eva stretches her abilities and struggles to find her footing as the sole local witch while making small inroads with her own practice. Her frequent, rapid fluctuations in confidence level, while mirroring the human experience, make for an odd reading experience, along with a plot that doesn’t arc so much as build and then meander. Eva’s ultimate solution to save the town appears spontaneously without narrative development.
VERDICT Despite its occasional storyline waffling, this middle grade fantasy is worthwhile. Memorable characters accompany strong messages of believing in yourself, working hard, and choosing who you love. A novel well worth the read. Recommended for fiction collections.

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