Sunday, August 5, 2018

Book Review: 'SonofaWitch!' by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Sara Dobie Bauer, Lissa Marie Redmond, Frances Pauli, Mara Malins, and Adam Millard (Edited by Trysh Thompson)

Modern magic is far more complicated than it might first appear to be.
The main character in “Good Spell Gone Bug” agreed to get a tattoo in order to earn money to pay off a debt. It wasn’t until the tattoo began to cause her some odd health problems that main character decided to break the rules and try to get rid of it regardless of the consequences. Ms. VanArendonk Baugh’s writing was filled with creative moments. I never knew what she was going to shock her characters with next, and that made it hard to stop reading.
Violet had an unrequited crush in “The Trouble with Love Spells,” and she thought the best way to fix it was to put a love spell on the guy she desired. Ms. Bauer’s twist to the spell made me gasp. It was the last thing I would have expected to happen, but it fit the tone of this tale perfectly. I also enjoyed the fact that the main character was so flexible when her plans didn’t exactly turn out the way she thought they would.
James owned a coffee shop that catered to fairy tale characters in “All the Petty Curses.” I was amused by seeing how he interacted with everyone from Hansel and Gretel to the Big Bad Wolf. While I enjoyed seeing how many references to classic fairy tales Ms. Redmond fit into James’ daily life, the number of characters running around the scenes was so high that I had trouble keeping track of what everyone was doing. It would have been nice to focus on a smaller number of people instead.
All Rowan wanted was to fall in love with the perfect man. What surprised me the most about her and her dog Rex’s adventures in “The Perfect Mate Fiasco” was how she reacted when she woke up the next morning and realized her spell had come true but not in the exact way she’d hoped. Ms. Pauli made me chuckle as I followed Rowan through her strange day and waited to see if she’d accept the soulmate she’d been given.
“A Matter of Perspective” showed what happened to a witch named Olyvar after he failed to learn how to make one of the simplest potions his instructor knew of. After he carelessly tossed a tatty root ball and watched it land in his potion, he and a few other members of the class were magically transported far away from home. Olyvar and his companions had intelligent reactions to their predicament, especially once they realized just how far away they’d really landed. I was especially impressed with how calm they were after they arrived. The plot twists only became more creative after that! Ms. Malins put plenty of obstacles in their paths, and that it made hard to stop reading until I knew how it would all end.
The first sentence of “A Poppet Named Dave” was as shocking as it was memorable: “River Everbleed had only been a witch for an hour when her head came off.” I giggled when I read it, and then I dove back into the story to find out what River had done to deserve such a fate. Don’t worry, though. It wasn’t gory. If anything, it reminded me of how it feels to learn any new skill and be terrible at it in the beginning. Mr. Millard captured that feeling perfectly, and I only grew more impressed with his writing style as I settled into the plot and realized what River was actually trying to learn to do with her magic lessons.

SonofaWitch! is a must-read for anyone who loves modern fantasy.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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