Scholastic. Apr. 2022. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338745528.
Gr 3-7–Twelve-year-old Seven Salazar excitedly awaits the Black Moon ceremony where she and her best friend Poppy hope to be placed in the powerful coven, House Hyacinth. Sadly, only Poppy joins House Hyacinth and in a nightmare come true, Seven finds out that she’s a Spare. In the magical town of Ravenskill, Spares are looked down on and have less power. To make matters worse, also in her coven are Seven’s bully, Valley Pepperhorn, and a girl named Thorn. When the three are unable to seal their coven, Seven invokes the impossible task which, if completed successfully, would seal their coven and give them their full power as witches. Their impossible task to fell the Nightbeast is a difficult enough endeavor, but they also have to contend with their constant bickering, the community’s unfavorable view toward Spares, and a mysterious conspiracy surrounding the Nightbeast. The trio of witchlings eventually overcome misunderstandings, grow to trust each other, and work together. The sorting system has a unique spin to it with the presence and treatment of the Spares. Readers familiar with Spanish may recognize the magic words used to cast spells: viento for wind, esconder for hiding something, and so on. Among the cast are many Latinx characters, a character with a nonbinary gender identity, and those in a same-sex relationship. The poor treatment of Spares may spark a timely conversation on the lack of protection for marginalized communities. The witchlings also find out that Valley’s father is abusive, on one occasion starving her for two days because of a bad grade. Mentions of abuse may be distressing to some readers.
VERDICT A magic-filled quest of friendship and power sure to please lovers of the genre; an excellent purchase for libraries.

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