Spells Trouble

St. Martin’s/Wednesday. (Sisters of Salem: Bk. 1). May 2021. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250765635.
Gr 9 Up–Twin teenage witches Hunter and Mercy are direct descendants of Sarah Goode, Salem escapee and founder of modern-day Goodeville, IL. The town is located within the confines of five trees that serve as gates to various underworlds and now, like Sarah and others of her lineage, the twins are learning to become gatekeepers and protectors of the town. But when queer, bullied, introverted Hunter and wild, impulsive, trouble-making Mercy participate in a ritual gone wrong on their 16th birthday, a demon enters Goodeville through the Norse gate and a series of murders soon follow. The two witches must overcome loss, heartache, and their own splintering relationship if they intend to save the world as well as each other. Hunter and Mercy, both “fawn”-skinned and dark-haired, are part of a somewhat diverse cast of characters: Emily, who has “russet brown” skin, Jax, who is part Native, and blond jock Kirk round out the group. Teen readers will connect most with the twins, who are fiercely supportive of one another and friends, insecure and sometimes awkward, conscious of both women’s and Native social justice issues, and tend towards text-speak and slang. Descriptions of thoughtful spell work will hook readers early and, though the novel focuses on Norse and Greek mythology, the twins get a glimpse into Egyptian lore and the setting is prepped for the introduction of Japanese and Hindu mythology in the novels to come. A satisfying cliffhanger sets the stage for the next in the series.
VERDICT This fantasy is a solid choice for YA collections.

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