cover image A Ruinous Fate (Witch’s Dice #1)

A Ruinous Fate (Witch’s Dice #1)

Kaylie Smith. Disney-Hyperion, $18.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-368-08159-7

The Witch Queens of Illustros must win a war against the Fates to keep their magic and immortality in Smith’s alluring if patchy fantasy debut, a series launch. Though every witch gets six Rolls of Fate with Witch’s Dice, a half-dozen witches are destined to roll all sixes, marking them as Blood Warriors forced to fight against their kin in service of the Fates; the rest are magically bound to serve the Witch Queens. After Calla Rosewood rolls her fourth six, she contemplates going on the run with her two friends, fearing she may fall victim to the Witch Queens, who seek to assassinate potential Blood Warriors. But Gideon—the brother of Ezra, Calla’s crush—has also rolled four sixes, and suggests an alternative: an expedition into the deadly Neverending Forest to find the Witch Eater, who can erase their Rolls and change their destinies—for a price. Haphazard worldbuilding and an underdeveloped premise undermine the story’s tension and stakes, but Calla’s struggles toward self-acceptance regarding her abilities adds heart and emotional depth. Playfully antagonistic group dynamics and a kaleidoscopic third-person narrative provides bustling pacing. Calla cues as white; some characters have blue or brown skin. Ages 14–up. Agent: Emily Forney, Bookends Literary. (Jan.)