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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Book Review: The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

The Scapegracers

by Hannah Abigail Clarke
September 15, 2020
400 pages
Publisher: Erewhon
Genre: YA, urban fantasy, LGBTQ, Lesbian fiction, wizards and witches
ISBN: 9781645660002
An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

Sideways Pike is a witch. When three popular girls hire her to cast a spell at their Halloween party, the former outsider and lesbian finds herself becoming part of their group, forming a coven. Sideways is an interesting character to me, and the book truly hooked me. I loved the play of its words and the way Sideways communicated telling this story in the first person. These aren’t cardboard teenagers, but people you like to get to know, while you get paranormal elements, magic, and scary stuff.

This paranormal YA to me is if Mean Girls, Tim Burton, and The Craft had formed a coven and conjured a demon, The Scapegracers would be the result. Not just a paranormal horror story, but characters drive this book. It will be perfect read for the coming Halloween season in this Covid year.

I gave The Scapegracers 41/2 sheep.

Reviewed by Pamela K. Kinney

About the Author:
Hannah Abigail Clarke was born in the Leo season of 1997 and has since lived in various places around the American Midwest.  They have been published at, Portland Review, Dream Pop Press, PRISM international, Eidolon, Gothic Nature Journal, and Chaleur Magazine. They were a 2019 Lambda Literary Retreat Fellow and a Pushcart nominee.  Their debut novel, THE SCAPEGRACERS, is to be released in 2020 via Erewhon Books.  He’s a recent graduate of the Masters in the Program of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she studied queerness, labor, and monstrosity.

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