The Scapegracers

Erewhon Bks. May 2020. 400p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781645660002.
Gr 9 Up–Three popular senior girls think Eloise “Sideways” Pike is a “skulky, gap-toothed weirdo,” but that doesn’t prevent them from paying her to produce magic at an early Halloween party. The results pretty much freak them out, and birth a complicated friendship among Jing, Yates, Daisy and Sideways, who need to figure out why there are dead deer, what to do about the witch-hunting Chantrys, and how to control the magic it appears everyone in the foursome can tap into. Although Sideways now has friends who understand “the witch thing,” life is still complicated. The multi-volume Vade Mecvm Magici, the escape of Mr. Scratch, and efforts to matchmake for Sideways and Madeline alternately strengthen their friendships and drive them apart. F-bombs abound, but the language comes across as real for these sometimes snarky, sometimes brave companions, who don’t fit neatly into traditional roles. The ending is satisfying, and indicates this may be the first in a series.
VERDICT Dark and brooding, with a literary style and a hearty dose of witchcraft. Suggest to fans of Maggie Stiefvater, Melina Marchetta, and Holly Black.

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