FICTION

Witches of Ash and Ruin

Freeform. Mar. 2020. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781368052252.
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Gr 8 Up–Dayna Walsh is a closeted witch hiding the truth from her conservative reverend father. Recently outed as bisexual, Dayna is socially isolated outside of her coven in her small Irish town. When witches start becoming victims of an alleged serial killer, two rival covens must team up to hunt the hunters. Complicating this fact is Meiner King, the granddaughter of an infamous dark witch, whom Dayna finds infuriating and fascinating. Dayna and Meiner must join together in a fight for their lives, their town, and the world. The creative magic system, based on Celtic mythology combined with modern neopaganism, is the selling point of this story. The well-drawn and diverse set of queer female characters is also notable. Young readers may be frustrated and disoriented in the beginning when the book switches among a large number of point of view characters. The rapid-fire introduction of characters with names unfamiliar to an American audience may also confuse readers, but it is worth it to read the conclusion of this pulse-pounding story. Each character has complex motives and backstory, and these plotlines intertwine well in the end. Latimer does not shy away from the gruesome side of dark magic, so squeamish readers should stay away.
VERDICT A suspenseful supernatural story. Recommended for libraries serving teens, especially where occult and horror books are popular.

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