The Bitterwine Oath

Hannah West. Holiday House, $18.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-82344-547-9
West (the Nissera Chronicles) packs the thrills of the Vampire Diaries series and Buffy into a smart, wry supernatural novel set in East Texas. In 1921, teenage witch Malachi Rivers and three friends botched a spell to expose their abusers—fatally poisoning 12 men by mistake—and unleashed a haunting that claims 12 boys every 50 years. A century later, Malachi’s 18-year-old descendant Natalie Colter’s biggest problems are nosy tourists and her awkward kiss with poet Levi Langford. When cult symbols and decapitated deer appear around her house, Natalie discovers that her town’s women secretly protect the town’s men from dark possession with hereditary magic—and that they need Natalie’s powers to prevent another tragedy. Despite blind spots on race, West’s nuanced handling of gender politics and cycles of misogyny avoid easy answers, and Natalie and Levi’s kind romance is one to root for. This fun, chilling, and sincere gothic novel keeps its head—and its heart. Ages 14–up. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 10/15/2020
Release date: 12/01/2020
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8234-5000-8
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