Saint Juniper’s Folly

Peachtree Teen. Jun. 2023. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781682635773.
Gr 9 Up–Jamie has spent years bouncing between foster homes. When he is finally taken in by his mom’s friend Michelle, the one caveat is that he has to move back to his hometown: Saint Juniper, VT. He’s not happy about that, or about much of anything. When he feels called to the woods between Saint Juniper and the adjacent nearby town, he finds an old, abandoned house. After entering, he discovers that he is inexplicably trapped within the house and is being kept there by supernatural means. Jamie is found by Theo, a kind-hearted, somewhat shy, do-gooder who stumbles upon the house. Both boys are out of their depth when it comes to ghost busting, so Theo tries to find information in a local apothecary shop, where he meets Taylor, a young witch trained by her recently deceased mother. The trio form a tight bond hanging out each day and doing deep-dive research on the specter-ridden home. The attraction between Jamie and Theo deepens. This sweet, supernatural love story features a trio of likable protagonists with each chapter alternating among their perspectives. Theo, the most grounded and skeptical, often serves as readers' proxy into the story; his struggle as he begins to resolve his romantic feelings for the sarcastic Jamie also draws readers into the romantic subplot. Taylor, whose presence helps drive the story, is also interesting with particular attention paid to her strained relationship with her father, who does not want her to engage in witchcraft.
VERDICT A recommended first purchase for teen collections looking to expand their supernatural fiction and LGBTQIA+ titles.

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