A sensitive and nuanced exploration of foster care and mental health set against a dazzling backdrop of magic and history.

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Pascoe’s YA novel follows a teenage witch’s journey through time.

Fourteen-year-old Rachel “Raya” Hollingsworth lives in foster care alongside 11-year-old Jake. Worried that she’s inherited her mother’s schizophrenia because of her tendency to hear and see things others don’t, Raya runs away. Her kindly social worker, Bryony Braxton—who just happens to be a witch (or “integrator”)—soon catches up to her in Raya’s hometown of Barking, England. Bryony reports that Jake also ran away from foster care and helps Raya to realize that the things she’s seeing and hearing, including her communications with Bryony’s cat, Oscar, are the result of her status as an integrator. Raya’s guilt over Jake’s disappearance accidentally transports her and Oscar (via magic) to Colchester, Essex, in 1645…right in the middle of the Essex witch trials. Bryony arrives to help, and together they attempt to contact Integrator Headquarters to find a way home as the “Witchfinder General,” Matthew Hopkins, closes in on them (“Raya protested but stopped when Hopkins grabbed her by the arm. When he touched her, she saw nothing but mud, smelled rotting things and tasted metal”). Raya’s bittersweet memories of her mother are absolutely heartbreaking and serve as an important touchstone for readers who may have experienced similar trauma. The author’s talent for balancing real-world issues with adrenaline-pumping exploits through time (including a perilous sojourn to 17th-century Istanbul) is impressive, as are her richly detailed descriptions of various people and places: “She heard every strand of conversation, smelled the cheese and yeasty bread of the court watchers, felt the change in temperature as they left the courtroom for the cooler hallway. The dappled light through the window was beautiful. The onlookers outside sounded like a murder of crows.”

A sensitive and nuanced exploration of foster care and mental health set against a dazzling backdrop of magic and history.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2017

ISBN: 9780993574733

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Trindles and Green

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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