cover image Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches

Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches

Kate Scelsa. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-246503-0

Following a disastrous falling-out with her girlfriend Chloe, which left her a social outcast, 17-year-old Eleanor Anderson—“easily the least witchy person” in Salem, Mass.—busies herself with taking care of her mother, who lives with Lyme disease; working at a family friend’s kitschy witch-themed gift shop; and smoking weed to help manage her anxiety. Then she meets Pixie, who invites Eleanor to join a coven seeking to “save the soul of this town.” Despite initial reservations, cynical Eleanor accepts, and soon starts dating more exuberant, open-minded Pix, as interstitials taken from a mysterious book sent to Eleanor reflect the story’s progression and explain the tarot’s major arcana. Employing a tongue-in-cheek first-person narrative and using flashbacks to shed light on Eleanor’s complicated previous relationship, Scelsa (Fans of the Impossible Life) explores public opinion and self-perception alongside themes of forgiveness, relational toxicity, and commercialism. Symbolic magic lends an underlying sense of enchantment as Eleanor opens herself up to new ideas and possibilities, and a sweet, gentle chemistry sells the central romance. Across the largely queer cast, protagonists are white; secondary characters are portrayed as racially diverse. Ages 13–up. Agent: Brianne Johnson, HG Literary. (May)