cover image VenCo


Cherie Dimaline. Morrow, $28.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-305489-9

Dimaline (Empire of Wild) underwhelms in this clunky feminist fantasy. Half-Métis Torontonian Lucky St. James is an underemployed, burned-out caregiver to her grandmother Stella. Then she finds a magical spoon, discovers she’s a witch, and moves to Salem with Stella to join a fledgling coven. The coven will usher in a new era—but only if all seven magical spoons in existence can be found by other unknowing witches like Lucky before the Benandanti, a group of misogynist witch hunters, can find them first. Dimaline’s trans-inclusive, BIPOC cast is admirable, but she works in their perspectives in the clunkiest way possible, interrupting the narrative at odd moments to give nearly every supporting character a POV section used to convey unwieldy backstory and describe prophetic dreams. Though this aspires to be literary fantasy—and indeed Dimaline’s prose is strong—the plot feels oddly like a mid-’90s girl power YA fantasy and offers frustratingly shallow readings of both historical events and contemporary power structures. The main villain falls particularly flat: a member of the Benandanti pointedly named Jay Christos, who’s only ever shown negging, sexually assaulting, and/or murdering everyone he meets; he’s more cardboard cutout than character. All but Dimaline’s most devoted fans can skip this one. Agent: Ron Eckel, CookeMcDermid Litarary. (Feb.)