The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke — ARC Review

The Scrapegracers by Hannah Abigail ClarkeSummary:

An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent on stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

Review: 5 Stars

When I first read the blurb for The Scapegracers I thought it sounded right up my alley, so I picked up a review copy. But I wasn’t very excited for it until I was looking through reviews for a good YA paranormal book to read and I came across an incredible review for The Scapegracers. Once my excitement for this book was reignited I started it right away and I quickly found myself hooked. The Scapegracers is the perfect fall read, it’s dark, witchy and written incredibly well. Lately I’ve had difficulty getting into books, but The Scapegracers grabbed me right away and I wound up devouring it over a weekend.

“… I’ve had my eye on you for a while, Sideways. I mean, we’d always noticed you. You were the skulky gap-toothed weirdo who was into occultism and knocked people’s lights out if they looked at you funny. …”

I absolutely loved all of the characters in this book. Sideways is a gritty main character who I instantly connected to. She is an angsty outcast who is incredibly badass. When she made friends with the popular girls, Jiang, Yates and Daisy, I expected them to be bitchy mean girls, I didn’t expect to love them all so fiercely. The friendships forged between these girls as they formed a coven was one of my favorite parts of this novel. These girls took care of each other fiercely. Each character was three dimensional and filled with personality. They felt alive and filled with energy. I couldn’t help but love them.

“.. We’re friends now. Blood is truly thicker than water, is it not? We spilled some blood between us with that glass. If Yates is your sister, I’m your sister, too. And now I have to fucking kill those assholes. Boys don’t touch my girls, I swear to God. I can be a fucking monster when I wanna be. I’m not good at a whole lot, but I’m spectacular at terrorizing people until they’ve lost it. I can ruin people like you wouldn’t believe. And I wanna wreck their sorry lives.”

The writing is what makes this book so incredible. Sideways voice just bleeds off the pages. It’s dark, gritty and beautifully descriptive. The writing has a bite to it that really drew me in. The pacing was also done really well. The book took off right away and the pacing stayed consistent throughout the entire book. I had a hard time walking away from reading for pretty much anything. I loved the gothic witchy vibes and couldn’t get enough of the writing.

“I guess my point is that teenage girls aren’t supposed to be powerful, you know? Everybody hates teenage girls. They hate our bodies and hate us if we want to change them. They hate the things we’re supposed to like but hate it when we like other things even more because that means we’re ruining their things. We’re somehow this great corrupting influence, even though we’ve barely got legal agency of our own. But the three of us the four of us, counting you were powerful. Maybe not in the ways that people are supposed to be, maybe in ways that people think are scary or hard to understand, but we are. Magic is ambiguous. It’s scary and flashy and everybody wants it and it really freaks people out. I guess it fits with the rest.”

The plot was pretty cool too. It’s definitely more of a character driven novel that focused on the friendships between Sideways and the other girls, but it still had a compelling plot. I also think that the magic system was really cool. The way sigils combined with the spells that they created just felt so possible. Magic felt believable and every scene where magic was used was just so thrilling and exciting that it felt magical just reading about it.

“I don’t regret anything. Tonight was awesome. I’m fucking pleased. We need to do more shit like this. The four of us are special. We make things happen. Even if you didn’t find your books, we proved we can make magic on our own. The party wasn’t some fluke. You know what? I say we find some place, hold another party Friday night. We can pull out all the big guns. Scare the fuck out of the whole student body. We’re gonna be legends. They’ll talk about us forever.”

The Scapegracers was a hidden gem that deserves all the witchy hype. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger that left me hungry for the sequel. This was an absolutely incredible debut and probably one of the best YA paranormal books that I’ve ever read. If you love dark witchy books with fierce characters and incredible prose I highly recommend you check out The Scapegracers.

I cleared my throat, tossed back my head, and threw both my hands toward the vault of heaven. “Who wants to see some fucking magic?”

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