Witch for Hire

Abrams/Amulet. Aug. 2021. 128p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781419748103; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781419748110.
Gr 7 Up–From the book’s title, readers may be expecting goofy plots or calamitous capers, but Naifeh’s latest effort is instead a sinister mystery that captures the social intricacies of high school. The story opens with shy new student Cody being relegated to the “loser” lunch table and finding tentative kinship with its occupants, in particular Faye Faulkner, a sullen girl in a witch hat. Surely, it’s just a cultivated image. But as the story unfolds, sinister pranks are unleashed upon popular kids, nerds, and nobodies alike. Fingers are pointed far too frequently at Faye. As Faye works to uncover the source of the incidents, readers realize the genesis and extent of Faye’s powers and the fearsomeness of her true foe, who prowls the ethereal realms of the internet. Naifeh’s winding narrative captures the claustrophobia of cliques and catfights, with sharp, shadowy illustrations and an autumnal palette adding to the dark mood. Faye and Cody are both light-skinned.
VERDICT Frightening as much for its depiction of social cruelty and scapegoating as for supernatural sorcery, this is an engrossing read.

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