cover image Cattywampus


Ash Van Otterloo. Scholastic, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-338-56159-3

Deftly weaving elements of magic and nature with a story of adolescent change, debut author Van Otterloo conjures a timeless contemporary fantasy. Mortal enemies thanks to a multigenerational family feud, Delpha McGill and Katybird Hearn, both 12, reside in Howler’s Hollow, a small Appalachian town. Loner Delpha, whose family is drowning in bills, is forbidden to use magic after a spell killed family members, but she’s desperate to make life easier for her and her mother. Popular Katybird, who was born with XY chromosomes and “hadn’t had much use for hormones like testosterone,” wonders whether being intersex will interfere with developing her witch family’s matrilineal gift. The two girls, one seeking to learn magic and one seeking to find it, soon find themselves immersed in their small town’s politics as they race to undo a spell gone awry—their inadvertent awakening of a graveyard filled with generations of warring witches from both of their clans. They must race against time to return the zombies to their final rest before the zombies’ efforts to destroy each other result in a destroyed town. With an organic-feeling plot and emotionally resonant characters steeped in Appalachian heritage and “dusty family lore,” Van Otterloo creates a friendly, magical tale. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Lauren Spieller, Triada US Literary. (Aug.) [/em]