Ash Van Otterloo
Published August 4, 2020
The magical story of a hex that goes haywire, and the power of friendship to set things right!
In the town of Howler’s Hollow, conjuring magic is strictly off-limits. Only nothing makes Delpha McGill’s skin crawl more than rules. So when she finds her family’s secret book of hexes, she’s itching to use it to banish her mama’s money troubles. She just has to keep it quiet as the grave — not exactly Delpha’s specialty.
Trouble is, Katybird Hearn is hankering to get her hands on the spell book, too. The daughter of a rival witching family, Katy has reasons of her own for wanting to learn forbidden magic, and she’s not going to let an age-old feud or Delpha’s contrary ways stop her. But their quarrel accidentally unleashes a hex so heinous it resurrects a cemetery full of angry Hearn and McGill ancestors bent on total destruction. If Delpha and Katy want to reverse the spell in time to save everyone in the Hollow from rampaging zombies, they’ll need to mend fences and work together.
I started reading this book because Natalie at Literary Rambles mentioned it as one of her favorites from 2020, so it’s been on my reading list since then! When Barnes & Noble had their 25% off pre-order sale, I picked up a paperback copy of CATTYWAMPUS, and I’ve finally been able to read it.
It took me a couple tries to get into the story. I can’t figure out why. I really enjoyed what I was reading– the southern expressions and deep North Carolina vibe are things that generally excite me about a story. I loved both Katybird and Delpha. I think Katy became my favorite by the end of the book, though. Her struggle to accept her magic and overcome her fears was super moving.
Tyler was also a favorite for me. He’s this sweet, sort of nerdy boy with two moms who kind of winds up right in the middle of Delpha and Katy’s mess and winds up helping them in some unexpected ways. I loved that and the stuff about his uncle and the way that Delpha connected with him.
Once I got to the part with the zombies, I was pretty hooked on this book. I loved all the chaos in the midst of the small town, spring festival setting. There are great characters and so many quirky, fun moments in this book. It’s also got tons of heart as both main characters have to face some fears and hurts and learn to form new relationships with people.
I think readers who enjoy southern fiction plus magic would definitely love this one. If you liked A SNICKER OF MAGIC by Natalie Lloyd, try CATTYWAMPUS.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Katybird has angroden insensitivity syndrome, meaning she has one X and one Y chromosome, but her body is resistant to male hormones, so she has physical traits of a female and identifies as female.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Characters have the ability to do magic. There are also werewolf-type characters called Snarly Yows and some zombies bent on destroying anyone in the families they’re feuding with.
Situations of peril. Some brief descriptions of decaying bodies attacking people and turning them to stone.
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