So Witches We ­Became

Little, Brown. Jul. 2024. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316568807.
Gr 8 Up–Spring break on a deserted island in Florida with her friends should be the perfect escape for Nell, a high school senior with more than her share of darkness and problems. Lately, though, the strange and frightening shadow that has always followed Nell in sleep has begun to infect her waking hours. When unexpected guests appear on the island and Nell’s mother’s ukulele—her best defense against the shadow—is destroyed, Nell is angry and disappointed but tries hard to cope until things take a deadly turn for the worst. The island itself suddenly seems violent with a dangerous red fog rolling in and a battering storm bearing down on them. As Nell and her friends work through the island’s dark secrets and hidden legends for answers, they must also find the courage to share their own secrets, giving them enough collective power to survive. This is a claustrophobic, evocative tale, skillfully crafted and sharply descriptive with horrifying imagery to spare. A very heavy backstory pairs with the quick pace and suspenseful tone to keep readers from being dragged under, and though there is ample cause for revenge and rage, there is much to appreciate, too, in the convincing romantic interest, healing friendships, and example of how sharing grief can lighten its burden. Though content warnings for sexual assault should not be taken lightly, gruesome vengeance and hard-fought justice will be had.
VERDICT Powerfully angry and vengeance-laden, with terrifying and very human monsters.

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