Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s/Delacorte Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: August 24th, 2021
Synopsis: For fans of “Us” and “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” comes a witchy story full of black girl magic as one girl’s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her and even darker future.
Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made more money. Clients pay her to talk to their deceased loved ones, but it isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and Mom’s deadbeat boyfriend of-the-week. Things get worse when a ghost warns her to stop the summonings or she’ll “burn everything down.” Katrell is willing to call them on their bluff, though. She has no choice. What do ghosts know about eating peanut butter for dinner?
However, when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this new lucrative business go.
But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon dark forces are closing in on Katrell. The further she goes, the more she risks the lives of not only herself, but those she loves. Katrell faces a dark choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late. (Goodreads)
For me personally, Bad Witch Burning was a difficult read. As you can tell from the 5 stars I’ve given it, it’s not because I think it’s a badly written story. No, it’s because it’s so on point in regards to living with a toxic parent, something author, Jessica Lewis sadly experienced herself. Without going into details, I too am a survivor of a childhood filled with abuse, although my background was white and middle class, rather than black and poverty stricken. Despite the differences in race and socioeconomic background, I strongly connected with Katrell and her complicated feelings toward her mother. She makes many terrible decisions, but every one of them can be laid at the feet of her horrendous home life and her desperation to escape. Her anger, bitterness, loneliness, and anguish are so intense they pulsate off the pages, and what she goes through is utterly heart wrenching. I confess to tearing up more then once. Mixed in with the darker real life themes of child abuse and neglect, is this incredible supernatural mythology which reminded me at first a little of The Monkey’s Paw, before taking a truly unique turn which had me worrying how Katrell was going to survive. Lest you think it is all doom and gloom, it’s not. There are moments of bright spots in the forms of Katrell’s loyal best friend Will and her adoptive parents who do their best to help, and Katrell’s caring guidance counselor, Mike. And without giving any spoilers, the book ends on a hopeful note. Because of the graphic abuse scenes, certain readers may have a tough time reading Bad Witch Burning, but if you’re looking for a vulnerable yet fiercely courageous protagonist to root for in a story that will suck you in from the first page, I highly recommend you give this a try. I guarantee it’s a book you won’t soon forget.