Keeping an identity secret, avoiding a manipulative ex, flirting with girls, dealing with threats to the coven—these are a few of the hassles of being a teen witch.
Hannah lives in Salem and works at a touristy witchcraft supply store, but few know she’s the real deal—an Elemental Witch who can manipulate fire, water, earth, and air. Her best friend, Gemma, certainly doesn’t, since she’s a Reg (Sterling’s version of Muggles). Her ex, Veronica, does, because she’s part of the same coven, although Hannah’s trying to avoid her during this summer before senior year. Her new crush definitely can’t find out—as if being 17 wasn’t hard enough. Meanwhile, someone’s dabbling in dark magic, and Hannah’s worried it’s a Blood Witch, who historically are the unpopular, manipulative ones of the bunch. Or it could be something worse—Witch Hunters. Among the white main cast, Hannah is a self-identified lesbian, and Sterling presents a realistic treatment of her other queer characters. Hannah also admirably stands her ground in leaving an unhealthy relationship. Unfortunately, the book includes a lot of telling instead of showing, with everyday magic and motivational backstory scenes. Additionally, there are some weaknesses in structure and in characters professing intense emotions that often don’t lift beyond the page.
For a romantic mystery with magical elements, the book’s flame is disappointingly lackluster. (Fiction. 14-18)