Spells Like Teen Spirit by Kate Williams. Delacorte Press, Penguin Random House, 2021. 9780593304822
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Supernatural adventure comedy?
What did you like about the book? Even though this is the third book in the Babysitters Coven series, it was my first outing with the gang, but I caught up quickly. Esme and Cassandra are opposites and besties, possessed of Sitter powers and sworn to protect the innocent (both inherited the abilities from their moms). Esme (who’s White) has the power of telekinesis while Cassandra (who identifies as Mexican-American and queer) has the ability to manipulate fire. Also along for the ride is the non-magic but brilliant Janis, who’s Black. In this entertaining and funny Buffy/Veronica Mars mash-up, the girls trail after a totally lame rock band named (successively) the Jacking Lanterns, Jump the Shark, and finally Superfüd, who seem to be in possession of powerful magic and may have Cassandra’s missing mom Circe. Also in the mix: a romantic interest for Esme (in the form of a boy who’s also a crow), a lot of thrift store adventures, and a long crazy sequence in which the entire student population of Spring River, Kansas becomes Superfüd fanatics after drinking spiked punch. Really, what can you say? I definitely laughed out loud. Williams leaves things open for another installment as Esme’s mom still suffers from an evil curse and Aidan (crow boy) will soon be attending Spring River High, minus the feathers.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The labored backstory occasionally interfered with my fun, but if I’d read the first two books, this would have been less problematic.
To whom would you recommend this book? Teens who like their gothic thrillers mixed with some slapstick. Fans of shows like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or Riverdale will probably enjoy this. It’s pretty clean but has a grown-up look, making it a good option for tweens.
Who should buy this book? Middle school, high school, and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? YA fiction, maybe in fantasy if you genre-fy
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: January 17, 2022