A Welsh Romani girl faces appalling violence and responds with magic.
Seventeen-year-old Bethan has been raised by her clan’s drabarni, their witch. Her trips into town to sell her grandmother’s magical remedies are plagued by harassment from Silas, the clan chieftain’s son. She’s protected only by Martyn, a young townsman. Like Bethan, Martyn is diddicoy, mixed Romani and white. Unlike her, he’s been raised in a gadjo town and knows nothing about his Welsh Kale heritage. Still, he befriends her and tries to protect her from Silas—which puts him right in the line of fire of Silas’ violence. Silas and his friends beat Martyn nearly to death, then Silas rapes Bethan. The attack brings about Bethan’s nascent magical power, and she enacts revenge with horrific, blood-soaked magic. Though Bethan stresses that Silas and his cronies are exceptions to Romani morality, the only Romani young men depicted participate in rape and attempted murder. And while Gran explains that her magic doesn’t come from Romani blood, the clan’s caravan life is dominated by the drabarni’s dark spells. The result leaves an earnest narrator attempting to depict Romani life as neither criminal nor magical, while the tale itself is about Romani who are at least one or the other.
A cathartic revenge fantasy of rape recovery, Quentin Tarantino–style, weakened by the stereotype-laden depiction of Romani people. (Fantasy/horror. 14-17)