When you’re all done with my review, go check out the other bookbloggers who were a part of the tour as well! Here’s the official Tour Schedule.
A very special thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours, Sasha Laurens, and Razorbill Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my open and honest review. Believe me, as with all B+S Book Reviews, there will be no BS here.
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Publisher: Razorbill / Penguin House
Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.
During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?
Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.
When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?
Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.
If you know Books and Shadows, you know that one of its main focused colors is purple. When I saw the cover of A Wicked Magic I knew my reading it was meant to be. Plain and simple, I knew that me and this book would match up well.
Another thing that I loved is the Inkblot test-style illustration of the cat, the tree branches, the candles and what I assumed were birds on the cover. This made me think the book would include some type of psychological thriller aspect as well. Definitely gave me the creepy vibes.
“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.”
The name of my blog is Books and Shadows, so naturally, I would be drawn to any synopsis that had magic and witches galore. The thing that caught my attention the most about this synopsis was the “Chilling adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft…”
Everything about that line reminded me of everything I loved and adored in my teenage years. Sleepovers in October with my friends, watching the spookiest and teenage-witchest movies that we could find, performing small (and super unproductive) seances, self-proclaiming the title of Witch without any formal training or real understanding of what that really means. The good old days, y’know?
If done right, I knew that the synopsis would slap me so hard with nostalgia that I would be transformed back into my 16-17 year old self looking up how to accurately cast a spell while listening to the Killers or Nirvana. Well, not only did the book do just that for me, but it took me back to my teenage years in ways I never expected. It was quite the pubescent ride.
I feel that the first thing I should touch upon is the large number of triggers that you are faced with time and time again throughout the entire book.
I personally love a book that pushes the limits of comfort to the far edges so that the imitation of life is more believable and heartfelt. If I’m feeling super uncomfortable when reading a book, I know that the author truly understands that aspect of life and has lived those experiences. That’s the reason why I usually don’t include trigger warnings in my book reviews unless requested by the author/ company I’m writing the review.
With A Wicked Magic, there were so many trigger points that I felt that it needed to be stated. So the first thing you’re hit with is deep depression and suicidal thoughts/ tendencies. Most of the characters are hit by this depression (some harder than others) and the accuracy of the depressed feelings even hit me hard enough to remember those dark moments in my life when the same thoughts would cross my mind. That’s never really happened to me before in a book so I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, pleasantly because to be able to evoke those feelings in me is a hard task to accomplish.
Some other intense triggers would be cutting, abusive parents, gore, stronger sexual situations than I’ve seen in most YA books, promiscuity, and actual suicide. Even abortion was touched upon in this one. Most of these themes are revisited multiple times throughout the story-line, so if you’re extremely sensitive or raw to any of these situations, you may want to hold off on reading this book
Key Highlights of the Book:
Profanity. Profanity. Profanity. Oh yes! These teenagers swear, and they do it so well. It’s so refreshing! I have the biggest potty mouth and have had one since my teenage years, so it was so good to see teens cussing up a storm in this book. These weren’t little swears such as the occasional “damn it or hell”, oh no, you were getting the big boy swears all over the place. I never thought I would be this excited to read a precisely placed “F-Bomb” in a YA novel, but it seemed to be exactly what I needed. It made their teenage dramas feel so real.
The gore. The descriptions of the decaying bodies and their smells were to die for. Again, the pun was sooooo intended. I’m a big horror movie buff, and gore is a must for me in all of them. It can’t be that cheesy gore where everything is copious amounts of blood and guts strewn all over the place. No, it has to make me think that if I was to walk upon a dead body, that’s what it would look like. And considering that I’ve seen my share of decaying human flesh, I can say that A Wicked Magic hit the decomposition mark.
The authenticity of the teenage plight was unmatched. I literally felt like I was in high-school all over again. Having meaningless arguments with my friends that felt like the end of the world at the time, unnecessary thoughts of self-hate, and everything else that comes along with being a hormonal teen.
I know that a lot of people complain about YA being too childish but damn it that’s what being a Young Adult is all about. Just because you’re 17 or 18 doesn’t mean you don’t have a bit of that immaturity that comes from your adolescent and prepubescent years in you still. Everything is still so heartfelt and the worst, and you don’t rationalize things as maturely as you would hope for that age. So, naturally, you are bound to fall back into the naivety every once in a while. This book didn’t spare our teens from being real teens. I loved that.
With that being said, I do feel like some of the drama was a bit drawn out and repetitive. It was almost to the point of an eye-roll while yelling at the paragraph that was frustrating you. If unnecessary drama and nasty, teenage attributes easily irritate you, then you will find yourself grinding your teeth at a lot of the situations that happen with the characters. But, again, for me, that’s what made them so believable… they behaved EXACTLY as a kid that age would.
I would say that this book had a great story-line that was easy to follow. This is the first time I was “triggered” in a book and that’s what actually made it a champion novel. All in all, this book scores high in the B+S Book Review Archives.
Wow. Liss is a whole lot of girl, and she comes full of issues. She’s rich, she’s needy, she’s spoiled and “matter of fact”ly (nope not a word, but it makes so much sense right?) She’s charismatic and manipulative. Pretty but broken. She deals with self-esteem issues that I personally have dealt with many times in my life, and I found myself relating to her even though our backgrounds were markedly different.
I struggled not to hate Liss a lot of times. Hell, I can honestly say that maybe for a while I did hate her. But the amazing thing about this book is that it evoked this hate from me that I must have buried long ago. Some underground teenage insecurity or incidences that happened in my life, I now wanted to give her the blame. Her character reminded me of people who have hurt me and made me feel as she made other characters feel. That’s some great character building there.
You soon learn that Liss is built the way that she is for many reasons that validate her extreme actions. By the end, I accepted that she was just trying to navigate through those rough years as we all were. She shouldn’t be turned into a villain for trying to figure out how life works.
Dan is an unrealized beauty, burdened with carrying around the weight of depression. She’s internally conflicted, but tightly holds on to any warmth or light she has in her life to keep from going completely dark. This says a lot for someone who constantly thinks of every reason to succumb to the darkness.
Alexa and I had some of the same upbringings and I understood her way of thinking more than anyone. She didn’t come from a loving, nurturing home, and had to live with a relative in hopes of having a better life. Even though she’s cold to the world and its ways, she still has a heart of gold and would do anything for the ones in her life that she loves and cherishes.
There’s something to be said for someone who has all the odds against them, yet continuously makes extreme strides. Yeah, she can be bullheaded at times and a bit rough around the edges, but she wouldn’t allow herself to become a victim of her environment, and that’s something I can definitely relate to on a super personal level.
A Wicked Magic was quite the roller-coaster ride for me, and I must say that I absolutely enjoyed the ride. I went back to my teenage years very easily, and I literally connected with every one of those girls. She was me.
Even though there were many triggers to look out for, I felt that those triggers authenticated the book and more authors should try to push the limits of our human experience in their works more often. They’re called triggers for a reason, and if they’re imitated correctly, the reader will become that much more engrossed in the story.
I definitely recommend this book, and I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to experience this witchy read.
Grew up in Northern California, where she learned to drive on Highway 1’s switchback turns and got accustomed to the best weather in the world. After studying creative writing and literature at Columbia University, she lived in New York for years and, at various times, in Russia. She currently resides in Michigan, where she is pursuing a PhD in political science.