Bea has started to hear and see things that no one else can – creatures, voices, visions. Then strangers visit Bea and tell her she is different: she has the rare powers of a witch. They warn her she is being hunted. Her parents think she is hallucinating and needs help. All Bea wants to do is get on with her life, and to get closer to Lars, the mysterious young man she has met at the skate park. But her life is in danger, and she must break free. The question is – who can she trust?
Carnegie Medal-winner Melvin Burgess returns with a powerful, thrilling fantasy for young adults about magic, myth and following your instincts.
What a let down. This book is all over the place character and plot wise, but also it is HUGELY problematic. It should definitely hunt as to the contents more in the blurb, and probably include trigger warnings (though I don’t know too many books that do). I am not marking this review for spoilers, even though some of it is, because I don’t want that to put people off from reading about why it’s problematic.
Bea is 13 when it starts, and it’s a bit more middle grade than I was expecting at this point, especially given the cover shows a grown woman. I actually liked the beginning, it’s the only bit I did. She begins to realise things aren’t what they seem and also learns to skateboard. All good. She then meets other witches, who straight away tell her, at 13, to run away and leave her family, and are shocked when she doesn’t want to. Wtf.
It only goes downhill from there. She is kidnapped, abused, and basically develops Stockholm syndrome. They have sex, which is both rape (even if it is consensual, it is done after months of abuse and conditioning) and paedophilia.
When she gets away, she is treated like it’s all her fault, and abused by her mums spirit, and put on trial. Victim blaming all the way. Even though she’s back with the “good guys” at this point it’s basically still conditioning by a different manner. They even say she should have known witches “don’t do that”. How?! In the five seconds she had to learn about witches before being taken? What the actual ****.
And then it ends pretty suddenly. With a relatively big reveal about the only character I actually liked, and that’s literally it. What happened next? Where’s everyone realising that Bea was 13-15 through all of this and is trying her best? Where’s the authors note suggesting if this was upsetting or sounds familiar maybe talk to people?
While I just can’t get over the problematic nature of basically everything in the book. I’ve seen reviews saying Bea isn’t a great character. And she’s not in many ways, but she is THIRTEEN when kidnapped and everything she knows is basically not true. What else should she have done? I think she does the best she can with the info she has and the circumstances she’s in.
TL;DR: do NOT read this book.
Normally at this point, I include a link to amazon to buy the book, but I honestly can’t in good faith encourage anyone to buy this book.