Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: Season of the Witch by Mariah Fredericks

While bullying is a popular topic in young adult novels today (and rightly so as it's such a prevalent and growing problem), Ms. Fredericks takes a unique angle on it. Toni isn't a typical nerdy wimp. She's not in the In crowd, but she has friends and people like her. Until that summer night when Oliver told her he and Chloe had broken up, so he and Toni hooked up. And then Oliver and Chloe got back together. And Chloe told everyone that they had most definitely not been broken up, and Oliver wouldn't defend Toni. Chloe is in the In crowd, in fact she seems to be the Queen Bee of the school. And she and her two cronies take it upon themselves to make her life a living hell.

Meanwhile Toni becomes friendly with Cassandra, the cousin of her best friend Ella. Ella is sweet and caring but not tough or devious. Which Cassandra is. She's the perfect friend to help Toni get through this rough time. Until she takes things up a notch, and shows Toni her book of spells. Cassandra wants Toni to hex Chloe. When her first spell, to mute Oliver in revenge for his silence towards her, works, Toni is terrified of the temptation and the potential.

The twist at the end with Cassandra was well set up and felt natural. And while the middle part with Ella was uncomfortable and upsetting, it was supposed to be and was very effective. It was also nice that Ms. Fredericks didn't do the typical thing with the two best friends who didn't like each other and let Toni be friends with both of them, even though it wasn't smooth-sailing. I also liked how she showed that someone like Ella, a bubbly happy well-liked girl, still had a lot of issues. And how even though she wasn't a steel-spined tough-girl, she had an inner strength that her classmates and friends valued and saw. The ending was satisfying, and even if there was a shocking moment or two in the book, nothing felt unbelievable or forced. The teenagers felt like teenagers. The high school was a little unfamiliar but that's just New York for you.

I could have finished this book in one sitting but I dragged it out for four days because I didn't want it to end. Ms. Fredericks's voice is so authentic and real, it feels warm and familiar. You feel like you know all of these characters like old friends (or old classmates). An important story in this world of bullies, and one that is new and fresh.

I checked this book out of the library. I am friends with the author but I knew her books before I knew her personally, and I strive to tell the truth about her books.

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