Reviewed by Samantha Hui
Clara’s got bigger issues than a new school.
Clara and her mother just want stability, but they’re about to discover that their lives are not as they appear. Jude Atwood’s Maybe There Are Witches will have audiences spooked, entranced, and captivated.
Strung together by a slowly unraveling mystery and centered around witches in a small town, this book is engaging for all audiences, but it would probably best be read under the covers by a dim nightlight.
“This is heavy. Your great-great-grandmother wrote a book of predictions just for you. And it sounds like she’s…warning you.”
Clara Hutchins is new to the historic town of Biskopskulla, Illinois. Her grandmother has passed away, and Clara and her mother have inherited a beautiful Victorian house that used to be the town’s only bed and breakfast. In inheriting the old home, Clara finds that she’s also inherited the secret past of her ancestors as well.
While Clara has to navigate the dangerous terrain of being thirteen and the new kid in school, she finds herself head-to-head against the one thing more dangerous and terrifying than middle school: a potential cataclysm caused by an immortal witch.
“This town has a violent history.”
While exploring her new home, Clara comes across an old enchanted journal: A Collection of Thoughts by Constance Love. The author of the journal, Constance Love, is calling for Clara’s help from the past.
Constance, a witch, had the ability to foresee the future and warns Clara of the disaster that will occur if Clara does not heed her warning. With the help from her new friends Gary and Chris, Clara goes on a journey to learn about her bloodline and take action to stop Biskopskulla’s soon to be cataclysmic event.
“They wanted to bury the witch and keep her hidden. It’s like saying, lock her up and throw away the key.”
This book is quite sensational and will elicit fear and intrigue in its audience. When Constance warns Clara against the man who will cause great danger to the town, she describes him as looking reptilian. When they finally encounter the man, his presence looms over Clara. Because we only ever know what Clara’s group knows, and we only see through their perspective, when we read about the villain, we get a strong feeling of “stranger danger” and actually fear for the group’s lives. The depictions of the characters and scenes in this novel are thorough and descriptive, but enough details are left out that we feel drawn in, craving to understand what it is that we’re missing.
“’It feels like every day I have to stop and adjust my worldview,’ Clara said. ‘I mean, one day it’s – maybe magic is real. Then next day it’s – maybe there are witches.’”
Maybe There Are Witches is a fantastical mystery that rewards readers with delightful misdirections and surprises. Clara is a thoughtful, headstrong character who is easy to root for. I highly recommend this book to young audiences as a spooky read during Halloween time, but it is also enjoyable for older audiences and acts as a reminder to not grow out of the fun of believing in magic.
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