I’ve been looking forward to Ortega’s next book since I finished Ghost Squad. And I was not disappointed. Witchlings is an emotional and sweet middle grade about bravery, friendship, and fighting intolerance. I read this in a matter of days I loved it so much! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Every year, in the magical town of Ravenskill, Witchlings who participate in the Black Moon Ceremony are placed into covens and come into their powers as full-fledged witches.
And twelve-year-old Seven Salazar can’t wait to be placed in the most powerful coven with her best friend! But on the night of the ceremony, in front of the entire town, Seven isn’t placed in one of the five covens. She’s a Spare!
Spare covens have fewer witches, are less powerful, and are looked down on by everyone. Even worse, when Seven and the other two Spares perform the magic circle to seal their coven and cement themselves as sisters, it doesn’t work! They’re stuck as Witchlings—and will never be able to perform powerful magic.
Seven invokes her only option: the impossible task. The three Spares will be assigned an impossible task: If they work together and succeed at it, their coven will be sealed and they’ll gain their full powers. If they fail… Well, the last coven to make the attempt ended up being turned into toads. Forever.
But maybe friendship can be the most powerful magic of all…
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Witchlings begins with this idea of what happens when we feel like we don’t belong anywhere. When we aren’t sorted to a house. It revolves around our desperate want to belong, to fulfill these expectations we grow up with. But Seven’s story is about this unlikely group of Spares who are faced with an impossible task. The danger and quest will force them to trust each other and, throughout the book, become friends.
Watching their friendship bloom is one of my favorite elements of Witchlings. They are forced to see beyond what our first impressions are and what we think we know about a person. Friends who turn out to abandon us and others who choose us against all odds. At the same time, our Spares face a prejudice against them as well as some truly cruel treatment. Ortega uses this as a lens to examine these issues of prejudice and the ongoing struggle for rights.
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Witchlings also ties their task to a broader adventure which allows Seven and her friends to grow into this space. I loved the pacing and action as their lives are turned even more upside down. This is perfect for all middle grade fans and those who love witches. It’s a story about not letting anger corrupt our hearts and change who we are. So many moments were beyond sweet and I loved the friendship and message about intolerance. Find Witchlings on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.