If you love academic competition, rivals to lovers, magical worlds, and musical theater, you have to read How to Succeed in Witchcraft. It’s the mash up I never knew I needed, but now I’m obsessed. And that magical world? Love it. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Magically brilliant, academically perfect, chronically overcommitted…
Shay Johnson has all the makings of a successful witch. Now that she’s a junior at T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School, she’s one step closerto winning the full-ride Brockton Scholarship–her ticket into the university of her dreams. Her main competition? Ana freaking Alvarez. The key to victory? Impressing Mr. B, drama teacher and head of the scholarship committee.
When Mr. B persuades Shay to star in this year’s aggressively inclusive, racially diverse musical—at their not-quite-diverse school–she agrees, wearily, even though she’ll have to put up with Ana playing the other lead. But with rehearsals underway, Shay realizes Ana is…not the despicable witch she’d thought. Perhaps she could even be a friend–or more. And Shay could use someone in her corner once she finds herself on the receiving end of Mr. B’s unpleasant and unwanted attention.
When Shay learns she’s not the first witch to experience his inappropriate behavior, she must decide if she’ll come forward. But how can she speak out when the scholarship–and her future–are on the line?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: homophobia, racism, grooming, emotional manipulation
How to Succeed in Witchcraft is multi-faceted. All at once it examines performative activism, grooming in high school, and microaggressions. But let’s start with the world – which I loved. I adore the ways in which Brophy has created this urban fantasy worlds. The ways it deviates from ours, while also providing a fantastical magical sheen. If you love urban fantasy YA this automatically has to be on your TBR.
Additionally the characters – all of the ones I loved – were complex, detailed, and endearing. I loved Shay’s parents so much, especially her mother. And Shay is such a wonderful character who has to figure out the price of success. How this academic drive exploits oppression to create a toxic environment. She has to try for the scholarship, her future hangs in the balance, but only because she doesn’t have the opportunities of her peers. And the microaggressions she experiences break my heart in its realism.
From the very beginning, Brophy showcases the school and director’s casual microaggressions. The amount of times Shay and Ana are put into uncomfortable positions. All the times they are asked to make a sacrifice because of the ways it will help us ‘get ahead’ in a system that was never designed for us – and is, in fact, against us. Don’t even get me started on how much I love this rivalry and queer romance!
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I cannot get over how much I enjoyed How to Succeed in Witchcraft on every level. From a world building level it feels like our world, but elevated. Character wise, I adore Shay and how she has to evaluate her own ideas about success and the future. How perhaps there isn’t just one path forwards. And from a thematic perspective, How to Succeed in Witchcraft is phenomenal in how it tackles the casual racism of authority and our peers. Find How to Succeed in Witchcraft on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.