Maybe There Are Witches
Published June 13, 2023
About Maybe There Are Witches
“I can’t think of a better fate for young readers.” -Steven T. Seagle, co-creator of Ben 10, Big Hero 6, and Camp Midnight.
After moving to the tiny village of Biskopskulla, middle school student Clara Hutchins discovers that her family has a history in the region: one hundred forty years ago, one of her ancestors was hanged as a witch from the white oak tree on the edge of town. When Clara finds a mildewed diary in the basement, she’s even able to read the rambling thoughts of her long-dead relative.
But when the book’s predictions about Clara’s own life start coming true, she wonders if those 19th-century villagers had a point: maybe her great-great-great grandmother really did have unearthly abilities. Now, a break-in at the tomb of the town’s founder means a great evil has returned to Biskopskulla. Clara and her newest friends— two of the weirdest boys in school— must join forces to decipher the messages of a murdered witch and stop an unnatural catastrophe. But as they quest through historic cemeteries, backcountry libraries, and high-octane scholastic bowl tournaments, something sinister is lurking, watching, and waiting…
One of the things I liked about this book is the way that Clara’s quest to discover what happened to her ancestor leads her to a new group of friends. At first, on her own in a new town, she feels pretty isolated. The discovery of her great-great-great grandmother’s diary could have been something she kept to herself and which further isolated her from others. Instead, it becomes a vehicle through which she builds a new community around herself. She makes friends, like Gary and Chris, and even comes to connect with a mentor of sorts.
In terms of pacing, the story begins slowly, but the tension and speed at which things unfold gradually builds until, by the end, it’s a pretty wild ride!
There was really only one thing that I have mixed feelings about, and I don’t think I can talk about it without spoiling a couple of things, so I’m going to leave that all the way at the end, after the content summary.
On the whole, though, I think readers who enjoyed THE DARKDEEP by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs will enjoy the eerie supernatural storytelling of this book.
Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.
Clara is white. One of her friends is Vietnamese American.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Clara finds a diary that appears to predict the future and responds to her actions and questions. She and her friends encounter other artifacts that have supernatural abilities. Clara and her friends try to complete an elaborate ritual they believe will banish evil from their town.
Situations of peril. Someone tells Clara macabre stories of the town’s history, including the story of a cult leader who was murdered by gun violence and a woman hanged to death for being a witch. References to a teenager killed in a car accident. More than once, people enter Clara’s house without permission. (One person mistakes it for a bed and breakfast establishment, and another appears intent on harming her and her friends.) Someone chases Clara and her friends and locks them inside a garage. A person uses a cattle prod to incapacitate someone else. Someone stabs another person through the heart.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of MAYBE THERE ARE WITCHES in exchange for my honest review.
The only thing I had mixed feelings about is that the woman who was murdered by the townspeople does turn out to be truly evil. There isn’t really any examination about whether, since she was evil, her execution was justified. One character comments that, basically, there are good witches and witches who cause harm, the same way that there are in other groups of people. So it is obliquely addressed, but it did leave me feeling a little weird because maybe the book implied that not all of the witch trials/murders were a bad thing (in a made-up world in which magic and witchcraft really do exist).
It’s possible that I’m reading way too much into the story and feeling weird for no reason. I liked a lot of other elements of the book, so I’m glad I had a chance to read it.