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Cassie Schulz

Fighting Alongside Friends in Isabel Sterling’s This Coven Won’t Break

The end of Isabel Sterling’s YA debut, These Witches Don’t Burn, left readers with a lot of exciting questions: Would they really bring Benton and his parents to justice? How would they stop the witch hunters? What’s the real story behind Hannah and Veronica’s encounter with the NYC Blood Witch? And, something I always want to know in every situation, is the queer couple still happy?

By the end of These Witches Don’t Burn, Hannah had suffered. Her dad died, her childhood home was destroyed in a fire, and she’d nearly died several times herself throughout the novel in excruciating ways. I mean, a car crash that nearly drowned her, saving Veronica from a home invasion, and nearly being burned at the stake? That’s a lot for a girl to handle. This is where we begin This Coven Won’t Break.

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Connecting the Realms in Sara Holland’s Havenfall

Something about mountains in general has always felt like a perfect magical setting to me. When I went to college in the Blue Ridge mountains, they took my imagination by storm. I spent much of my time writing about witches and wizards, picturing all the ways magic was soaked up by nature all around me. Grandfather, Sugar, and Beech mountain kept my mind fluttering with possibilities. The mountains are the perfect place for a magical community to thrive.

As soon as I heard that Sara Holland’s Havenfall took place in a hidden, magical inn nestled in the Rocky Mountains, I knew I had to read it.

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Celtic Mythology with a Magical Twist: E. Latimer’s Witches of Ash and Ruin

If you’ve been around in the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably seen Dahlia Alder’s article on Tor titled Season of the Witch. In it, Dahlia explains how Queer Magic in YA is trending. If you haven’t read it, go do it now, and then come back.

I’ll wait.

Did you read it? Okay, good.

Dahlia is SO right. Queer Magic is a big thing right now in Young Adult Lit, and I am absolutely here for it. We’ve gone beyond the basic coming out narrative, and we’ve moved into something new. We now have enough queer stories out there to have trends in genre, in style, in character. As someone who spent an immeasurable amount of her youth (and, let’s be honest, I still do this) on a creative writing roleplay site based on Harry Potter lore and making every character I could incredibly gay, I am the prime target for anything queer and magical. I’ve loved so many of the books that have pushed this forward in the zeitgeist: Zoriada Córdova’s Labyrinth Lost, literally anything written by Amy Rose Capetta, and now I get to add E. Latimer’s Witches of Ash and Ruin to this list.

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Ephemeral, Eternal, Bountiful: Libba Bray’s The King of Crows

“Did you think the King of Crows would not come to collect on a bargain?”

Libba Bray’s series The Diviners is one that has stuck with me for a long time. I remember each time I encountered the first three novels: In 2014, I was drawn to the original hardcover gazing at me from a clearance shelf, fascinated by the intricate design—purples, golds, a mysterious eye staring out into the world. It brought me out of a reading slump, and I began to read again.

I remember having my first bookselling job when Lair of Dreams released, and I devoured that book on the metro ride to and from my props design gigs in D.C. My first year of teaching, Before the Devil Breaks You came out, and I curled up with Evie, Sam, Theta, Jericho, and the entire Diviners crew in my new apartment I’d been relocated to after Hurricane Harvey.

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