Witchcraft and Platonic Love: My A Wicked Magic Review

I don't read contemporary fantasy all that much, but the second I read the blurb for A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens, I knew I had to have it. I've been wanting to dip into a witchy book for a while, but combine that with a little mystery? Well, you've got the promise of something seriously awesome. 

I got the fun, witchy adventure I was expecting, but I also got something I've been craving for a while: A YA book without romance! *cue gasps of shock and horror*

Here's my spoiler-free review.

Book Title: A Wicked Magic
Author: Sasha Laurens
Publisher/Year: Razorbill, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 368
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Book description (from Goodreads):

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.
Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.
During a spell gone wrong, Liss's boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss's friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?
Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss's orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she's hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.
When another teenager disappears, the girls know it's no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?
Set in the atmospheric wilds of California's northern coast, Sasha Laurens's thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all. 

Pretty cool, yes? Let's get into it.

Meet the Magical YA Friendship Book of Your Dreams

A common complaint I hear about YA is that it's too focused on romance. Some YA books even seem like the author shoehorned in a romantic subplot just because of genre expectations.

Sure, I like a good romance subplot as much as the next gal, but I have to admit that I've been starting to feel the romance fatigue, too. Well, it's A Wicked Magic to the rescue!

There are a couple of romantic pairings in the story, but they mostly don't play out on the page, and they take a very firm back seat to the platonic friendship story between the three main characters. Dan, Liss, and Alexa have to navigate a lot of tension and jealousy throughout the course of the story, but eventually they come together when it really matters.

I found each of the viewpoint characters to be likable but deeply flawed, which is my jam when it comes to protagonists. Overall, this story was a really interesting way to explore close female friendships through a fantasy lens.

The one drawback of all this focus on character was that the pacing was a little slower than I expected. I personally would have liked the main plot to move a bit faster, but I wasn’t disappointed by the extra character development. By the end, I felt like Dan, Liss, and Alexa were my best friends too!

Let's Talk About the Writing Style

I absolutely adored the writing style in this book — it’s kind of a whimsical, slightly tongue-in-cheek voice that reminded me of many of my favorite books growing up.

That's not to say that the writing is simplistic or childish, but it has a certain air of timelessness and nostalgia that I fell in love with immediately.

There are also several little mysteries in this story which get unraveled over the course of the narrative, which I totally loved. Some of the twists shocked me in the best way!

Trigger Warnings for A Wicked Magic

I haven't ever noted trigger warnings for a book before, but I think I should probably start doing that. As such, this book might not be for you if you're sensitive to depictions of abuse, self-harm, kidnapping, depression, OCD, and implied statutory rape.

Final Thoughts

As long as you don't mind a slower pace, I'd recommend this book to anyone who's feeling fatigued by the endless barrage of YA romance and wants a story that explores the emotion and intensity of platonic friendship.

Oh, and anyone who likes witchy stuff, of course.

Thanks to Penguin Teen for the ARC of this book! A Wicked Magic is now available in stores everywhere, so if this sounds like something you'd like, go ahead and swipe your copy now :D

Barnes and Noble | Bookshop.org | Amazon | Goodreads

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