Abrams/Amulet. Sept. 2022. 368p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781419754708.
Gr 9 Up–Zachary “Zooey” Orson is powerless. He can’t control how he looks, which he doesn’t really like. He can’t control where he gets sent to school, a boarding school in Massachusetts called Blackfriars. He definitely can’t control being gay, and has never really explored that part of himself fully. When Zooey starts getting bullied in gym class, he befriends local jock Daniel, who introduces him to a school secret society called the Vicious Circle. The VC is a monthly gathering of the queer boys on campus. The star of these soirees is Leo, Daniel’s vivacious roommate slash boyfriend. The boys spend more and more time together and a love triangle begins to form, but Leo has a dark secret. After discovering an occult book in the headmaster’s office, he connects with his friend Steven to decipher the Latin held within the grimoire. Leo, Steven, and Daniel invoke a dark force in its pages to make their lives better at the school. When Leo decides to use the book to punish the bully giving Zooey a hard time, they include him in their latest conjuring. They ultimately unleash a darkness that they aren’t prepared to deal with and have no idea how to stop. Part-unrequited love story, part-supernatural thriller, this title ultimately succeeds at both objectives at different times in the narrative. Zooey’s development as a queer kid coming to terms with himself will no doubt hook many readers. What they will ultimately stay for is the dark magic that, once revealed, consumes the rest of the story.
VERDICT A recommended first purchase for public library YA collections.

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