cover image Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch

Mariah Fredericks. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-449-81277-8

Fredericks (The Girl in the Park) delivers an intense but hopeful tale of bullying, revenge, and grief. The summer before junior year, narrator Toni Thurman had a fling with Oliver, who was “kind of taking a break” from his relationship with his girlfriend, Chloe. After Oliver and Chloe get back together, Chloe and her friends launch a terrifying assault against Toni, starting with text messages, rumors, and threats, and culminating in a physical attack. As Chloe’s campaign spreads across the school, Toni’s response is a believable mix of bravado, sadness, and terror. Unable to stop the attacks, Toni connects with Cassandra, who has found power and comfort from her own problems in witchcraft. When the girls’ revenge spells seem to work—with tragic consequences—Toni tries to find a way to heal the damage. While the ending comes a bit too easily for such a complex story, Fredericks again proves her gift for conveying the intensity of adolescence, while exploring the ways girls’ sexuality is used against them and asking why “we all have to be predators and prey.” Ages 14–up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Oct.)