The Blue Witch: Witches of Orkney by Alaine Adams, illustrated by Jonathan Stroh

The Blue Witch: Witches of Orkney by Alaine Adams, illustrated by Jonathan Stroh. SparkPress, 2018. 9781943006779

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Paperback

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Abigail, an orphaned lonely witchling, is beginning her first year of lessons and is on her way to becoming a full-fledged witch.  Nervous and scared, she tries to make friends until Endera and her mates Nelly, and Glorian go out of their way to alienate her from all the other witchlings.  Abigail eventually meets Hugo, a boy from town, and they become fast friends.  While unlocking her magic, Abigail finds that it is different from the others at her school.  She learns about her mother’s past and the reason why Endera’s mother wants her kicked out of school.  Challenges arise as the year progresses, along with obstacles that she needs to overcome, including one that almost kills her.  Should she be herself, or stick to the witches’ code? This novel will keep readers turning pages to see what will befall Abigail and how, or if, she will overcome her challenges.  References to Norse mythology and figures may be a draw for fans.  Black and white illustrations add flavor to the tale and help to bring the story to life. A map of Orkney in the front of the novel is helpful to readers.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The story can be dark, which may be a turn off for some readers.  Reference to Norse gods might be challenging for readers who do not have this background knowledge.

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers, in grades 5 to 8, who enjoyed Harry Potter or Charlie Bone stories about overcoming adversity may enjoy this series.  

Who should buy this book? This would be a good purchase for middle schools or public libraries that cannot get enough fantasy stories with magic and strong female protagonists.

Where would you shelve it ? Fantasy

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? I feel that this title would reside near the top of the “to read” pile.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Elena Schuck, Nathaniel H. Wixon School Library, Dennis, Massachusetts

Date of review: September 13, 2021

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