cover image The Witch of Woodland

The Witch of Woodland

Laurel Snyder. Walden Pond, $19.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-283665-6

In Atlanta, a Jewish witchcraft enthusiast drafts a book about her 13th year, blending mystical components with problems of ordinary life. Zipporah Chava McConnell’s intermarried family are what Zippy thinks of as “like… part-time Jews,” so she’s taken aback when her mother announces that it’s time to prepare for her bat mitzvah. The family attends synagogue for the High Holidays each year, but Zippy doesn’t feel like she fits in, and she’s not sure about “the whole faith-y part.” Her real love is witchcraft, and she’s long had an affinity for creating spells. But belief systems and incantations start intertwining when Zippy’s Torah reading mentions a sorceress, and they really intermingle when her speaking a Hebrew word accidentally summons a winged being, whom she calls Miriam. Zippy tries to help Miriam recover her memories and return to wherever she’s from—the company’s nice, too, since Zippy and best friend Bea aren’t talking. Structuring the novel as Zippy’s accounting of the strange events, Snyder (Endlessly Ever After) leans into the tween’s candid, fourth-wall-breaking narration to interrogate interpersonal difficulties and mysteries of faith, resulting in an evolving portrait of a nearly 13-year-old growing up before her own eyes. Ages 8–12. Agent: Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. (May)