Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy

For fans of Us and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comes a witchy story full of black girl magic as one girl’s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her an even darker future.

Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made more money. Clients pay her to talk to their deceased loved ones, but it isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and Mom’s deadbeat boyfriend-of-the-week. Things get worse, when a ghost warns her to stop the summonings or she’ll “burn everything down.” Katrell is willing to call them on their bluff, though. She has no choice. What do ghosts know about eating peanut butter for dinner?

However, when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.

But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon dark forces are closing in on Katrell. The further she goes, the more she risks the lives of not only herself, but those she loves. Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late. 

Seems like I’ve come across several witchy books lately, and they’re a favorite of mine when it comes to paranormal. Raising the dead can’t come without consequences, so I was anxious to see how Katrell dealt with these dark forces.

Trell is the teenager in her family, but essentially the only responsible adult. She works thirty hours per week, attends high school, buys groceries, pays the bills and rent, and gives money to her unemployed mother and her mom’s deadbeat boyfriend. He physically abuses Trell, works a part time job, and refuses to contribute to the household financially. Every interaction with her mother and boyfriend made me so angry I wanted to reach into the pages and choke them. Trell has been homeless more than once in her life, and if not for her job at a restaurant and the kindness of her best friend’s mother, she’d go hungry much of the time.

For reasons that are never explained, Trell is able to write letters summoning the ghosts of clients’ family members so they can speak to them. Suddenly her power changes, and she’s able to raise the dead and return them to her clients. For a price, of course. I would have liked an explanation for where her powers came from, how she discovered them, why they changed, etc., to better understand her magic. Maybe I missed an explanation, but I wondered why no one discovered the empty graves after the dead rose. Seems like it’s something that would have turned up on the news. Trell’s goal is to make enough money from raising the dead to support her and her mom for a year. After her hours are cut at the restaurant, the pressure is on to earn even more to keep them sheltered and fed. Soon the money is rolling in and Trell begins to lose sight of her goals. She ignores the advice of best friend Will and a concerned school guidance counselor, and her life rapidly spirals out of control.

Although she’s brave and loyal to a fault, Trell is also incredibly frustrating. She’s blind to her mother’s actions, and you’ll want to yell at her many times over her consistently bad decisions and wonder how she’ll ever fix the disasters she’s created.

Between the dead walking around, Trell’s personal struggles, and her determination to better her life, you’ll want her to somehow find a happily ever after, but it’s something that won’t come easily. This novel does a wonderful job of raising awareness of homelessness, poverty, and physical abuse, and the author discusses her own experiences before the story begins. It also stresses the importance of getting help and finding a support system. Some readers may want to heed trigger warnings. Overall, a strong debut novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

24 thoughts on “Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy

    1. She was frustrating, but because of the pressure she was under and some other issues, she didn’t make the best decisions. If she did, I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a story, lol. Thanks for visiting, Yesha!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There were some dark, humorous moments, but you also know there are bound to be consequences resulting from raising the dead. She got a little carried away with the sudden influx of money – especially since she’d never had much in her life.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve read a lot of witch books in my day, but I don’t think I ever read one about raising the dead. Interesting. Though her poor decision-making skills might be too big a turn-off for me. (Teen brains…)

    Great review, Teri.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw this book around and almost picked it up – the blurb was catchy, and I’m not the kind to enjoy blurbs, and, honestly, I make no habit of reading them .
    So, when you say she’s blind to her mother’s actions and wanted to yell at her, I wondered if this is the kind of plot that ignores logic to move the story along?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad to see you out in the blogosphere, Jina! I wouldn’t say the MC ignored logic, she was just in denial about how horribly her mother treated her and took advantage of her. It’s hard to believe a parent could treat their child that way, but sadly it happens.

      Liked by 1 person

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