The Bitterwine Oath

Holiday House. Dec. 2020. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823445479.
Gr 9 Up–This tale takes place on the 100th anniversary of a curse created by a group of witches who tried to take revenge on the men who wronged them. Set in San Solano, TX, the novel tells the twisted story of murder in a small town. Natalie Colter’s great-great-grandmother’s past as the local “cult” leader seems to haunt her when strange events start occurring—hinting that the ritualistic murders of the past might begin again. This book has a little bit of magic, a little bit of thriller, and a little bit of romance. And amid all of this there is an overarching theme of female empowerment and standing together while fighting for what is right. The plot is dark and contains mature themes of animal and human violence, supernatural possession, and cults. While the story is paced slowly throughout, there is a constant sense of urgency, making the slower moments feel all the more pressing. The writing is descriptive and flows throughout the passages, adding to the thriller aspect of the story, though the romance is underdeveloped. The main characters come from multiple ethnicities and backgrounds.
VERDICT A solid magical thriller perfect for fans of witchcraft and slightly darker YA books.

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