cover image Witchlings


Claribel A. Ortega. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-338-74552-8

During magical Ravenskill’s Black Moon Ceremony, every 12-year-old Witchling is sorted into one of five powerful covens, except those designated as Spares, a sixth group treated as a servant class by the others. Much to her surprise, aspiring journalist Seven Salazar, who has brown skin and reads as Latinx, is designated a Spare, along with wealthy mean girl Valley Pepperhorn, who is white with rose-hued hair, and amiable pale-skinned newcomer Thorn La Roux. But when the new Spares face losing their magic completely, and becoming Forever Witchlings without powers, Seven invokes the little-used Clause of the Impossible Task. Now the trio has three weeks to locate and defeat the deadly, wolflike Nightbeast, or be permanently transformed into toads. As they combine their skills—Seven’s botanical expertise, Valley’s hunting knowledge, and Thorn’s enchanted tailoring—and develop a bond of friendship and loyalty, the quest reveals more about the Spares, and the Nightbeast’s predations. Centering three resourceful, sympathetic protagonists and considering issues of exploitation and privilege, Ortega’s (Ghost Squad) lively sophomore release interweaves Spanish phrases, contemporary elements, and well-grounded magical worldbuilding. Ages 8–12. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Apr.)