The Grace of Wild Things

The Grace of Wild Things
Age Range
Release Date
February 14, 2023
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Grace has never been good at anything except magic—not that anyone believes her.

While other children are adopted from the orphanage, nobody wants Grace. So she decides to make a home for herself by running away and offering herself as an apprentice to the witch in the nearby woods. After all, who better to teach Grace to use her magic? Surely the witch can’t be that bad.

But the witch is that bad—she steals souls for spells and gobbles up hearts. So Grace offers a deal: If she can learn all 100½ spells in the witch’s grimoire, the witch will make Grace her apprentice. But if Grace fails, the witch can take her magic. The witch agrees, and soon an unexpected bond develops between them.

But the spells are much harder than Grace expected, and when a monster from the witch’s past threatens the home Grace has built, she may have to sacrifice more than her magic to save it.

Editor review

1 review
Blossoming Magic
Overall rating
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This book is a finalist for the 2023 Cybils Award in Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction.
What worked:
Grace’s colorful, descriptive, inquisitive language is a highlight of the book as she likes to use advanced words, even if she's not certain of their meanings. The expressive language makes some passages almost poetic and the introduction to every chapter begins with actual lines of verse from famous writers like Emily Dickinson and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Friends is a lovely word with its secret, silent e in the middle and scullion is a wonderful term Grace calls the bully in her class. Grace has a deep love for poetry and she often reads poems about birds to her crow named Windweaver. Grace’s incessant questions are irritants for the witch but they also provide amusing interactions for readers. Her negotiating skills regarding the witch’s wager to perform 100 ½ spells is unexpected considering the witch already intends to steal Grace’s magic. Grace’s reactions to the witch’s salty disposition are priceless as she often ignores the witch’s intentions and shares positive, enthusiastic comments.
Readers may find the witch perplexing due to her unpredictable and mysterious character. She lets insults and disparaging remarks fly when she first meets Grace and reproaches Grace when she tries to perform spells. The witch can let loose with angry rants one minute but later walk weakly to bed, nursing a cough. She admits to doing some terrible things in her life, like changing her little brother into a rain cloud, and doesn’t offer any help as Grace tries to correctly perform the grimoire’s spells. Later, Grace is shocked when the witch doesn’t reprimand her and the witch actually offers a compliment! Readers will recognize the changes in the witch’s character but there always seems to be something unspoken going on in her mind.
Grace’s cast of friends slowly grows and it’s a motley mix of characters. Everything is wonderful to the curious Grace when compared to the boredom she experienced at the orphanage. Windweaver is Grace’s longest, most loyal friend but he is troubled by how other crows bully him. Sareena lives at the farm next door and she’s been desperate to find a close friend. Sareena finds it difficult to share Grace’s attention and fears she’ll lose a best friend again. Sareena’s little sister likes to pretend she’s invisible and it’s fun to see other characters indulge her wishes. Grace rescues a fairy named Rum and their relationship is unusual. They frequently grumble and complain around each other but it’s clear that much of that is for show. The class bully named Poppy has a score to settle with Grace and ambushes her in the woods. However, things don’t go as planned and their encounter results in a surprising transformation.
What didn’t work as well:
Some readers might want a little more closure in the resolution of the plot. They’ll need to speculate about what happens to Grace as several events transpire as the story nears its climax. There may have been too many things happening.
The final verdict:
The author artfully crafts the story of a young witch, desperate to find a home, that slowly evolves into an emotional tale of love and friendship. Grace is a delightful, energetic character who will endear herself to young readers. Overall, this is a marvelous book and I highly recommend you give it a shot!
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