How to Succeed in Witchcraft

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How to Succeed in Witchcraft
Age Range
12+
Release Date
September 27, 2022
ISBN
9780593354520
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Shay Johnson has all the makings of a successful witch. As a junior at T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School, she’s determined to win the Brockton Scholarship—her ticket into the university of her dreams. Her competition? Ana freaking Álvarez. The key to victory? Impressing Mr. B, drama teacher and head of the scholarship committee.

When Mr. B asks Shay to star in this year’s aggressively inclusive musical, she warily agrees, even though she’ll have to put up with Ana playing the other lead. But in rehearsals, Shay realizes Ana is . . . not the despicable witch she’d thought. Perhaps she could be a friend—or more. And Shay could use someone in her corner once she becomes the target of Mr. B’s unwanted attention. When Shay learns she’s not the first witch to experience his inappropriate behavior, she must decide if she’ll come forward. But how can she speak out when her future's on the line?

Editor reviews

2 reviews
consuming YA fantasy
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
HOW TO SUCCEED IN WITCHCRAFT is a consuming and engaging YA fantasy about prejudice, grooming, and falling in love. Ever since she learned about it, Shay has been working towards a prestigious scholarship that would basically set her up for life. In this world, everyone has magic, and their abilities are tested in various ways that can lead to them getting into a licensing college or not. Without a license, you can never have an advanced career, as you'll have to work under someone with a license for little pay and no respect. People try for years after high school to get into one of these exclusive institutions, and most will never succeed.

This junior year is the year that Shay can finally apply and hopefully see her dreams beginning to come true. Things begin to shift when the theatre teacher who also judges the scholarships strong-arms her into auditioning for the musical he is doing at the school. There is just something off about Mr. B, but since no one else seems concerned, Shay is willing to try to overlook the things that twist her gut. Her biggest rival for the scholarship, Ana, is also auditioning for the musical, and as they spend time practicing together, Shay will begin to realize that aside from their competition, they actually have a lot in common. As the year heats up, Shay will have to decide who she wants to be and how much she is willing to value this potential scholarship.

What I loved: This is a really consuming read that deals with some heavy topics around prejudice (regarding race, sexuality, etc), grooming and abuse of power, and wealth disparity. Shay has really hung all her hopes around this scholarship, and it leads her to question how much she is willing to do to receive it. This leads to some difficult situations, and the book does a great job of encouraging readers to trust their gut and get help before it is too late, as well as walking out the potential consequences of taking action on this - as well as the ability of those in power to cover it up and the way that it punishes the victim as well.

Beyond this, the book also discusses prejudices faced with microaggressions and stereotypes that are thrown around, as well as the ways that the people on the receiving end are forced to respond - or in many cases unable to respond. Although these had a magical twist, they certainly have clear correlates to the world in which the reader resides. Shay is a really compelling and genuine character through whose eyes the reader experiences these.

The romance was also a really great aspect of the book, and it had a fun enemies-to-lovers (though mostly misunderstanding based) aspect that built slowly. The story manages to capture these aspects as well as the more serious ones amidst the turmoil of a high-achieving year as well as the heavier topics that it also explores.

Final verdict: Overall, HOW TO SUCCEED IN WITCHCRAFT combines thought-provoking themes with magical world-building to deliver a relatable story with compelling characters.
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A fascinating magical ride
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
The concept of a world in which magic is available yet still subject to the same racial and socioeconomic constraints pulled me in quickly. Brophy creates an intriguing world with a well-developed magic system that’s easy to understand, and her characters are engaging. The story is fast-paced and it’s easy to get caught up in Shay’s life and struggles, especially as she goes through such a rigorous and exhausting schedule to achieve her goals. She’s single-minded and dedicated to attaining her scholarship, and it’s easy to empathize with her, even though she can be frustrating at times. The romance is sweet, and the enemies to lovers trope is used very well in this story.

While books mirror reality, for a YA book that is marketed for 12 and over, there are multiple instances of profanity throughout the story, which may be concerning for some readers, especially those on the younger side of the spectrum.

Overall, the story is intriguing. Despite centering on fantasy, it does focus on some very realistic elements of discrimination in a variety of forms, including racism, classism, and homophobia, as well as incorporating aspects of grooming. It’s a fast-paced ride through a fascinatingly creating magical world full of intriguing characters who are just starting to find their way in life and love, and kept me hooked from start to finish, hanging on every word.
Good Points
- Great character development
- Unique and well-explained magical system
- Sweet enemies to lovers romance
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