by Jenna Evans Welch

Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2022

An unlikely storyline that only gets wilder and more fun but is completely grounded by interesting, realistic characters you can’t turn away from.

Willow’s workaholic mom gets a letter from Salem, Massachusetts, and Willow learns she’s been lied to her entire life. Her put-together, stiff, and unreachable Mom was raised by a coven of witches Willow knew nothing about, and if that’s not enough, Mom had a twin sister who just died.  Willow is devastated and angry but hopeful this revelation will bring her mother closer. They head to Salem to settle the estate.

What a crazy, twisted, and unique storyline!

I give Welch credit for her creativity. The concept was almost too bizarre to believe. But curiosity kept me reading, and then we met the boy. Told in dual POV, it is the depth of this character, Mason, who drew me in.

Mason has been in Foster Care for 11 years. He’s run away a few times. Not because he’s a bad kid but because he’s looking for his mom. He knows she needs him. This placement with the Morgans in Salem, MA, is his last chance. While he prefers living with a family to lift in the group home, living with Emily Morgan, his mom’s best friend, is not cool. Where was Emily when drugs took his mom from him? But he has to try because maybe Emily knows something that will help him find her.

Welch’s characters carry this story.

The depth of Mason’s emotion and the unapologetic idiosyncrasies of this teenage boy have you rooting for him from the start. I learned to love Willow, too. After the sensationalism of the plot was softened by the introduction of her aunts, the quirky Salem witches who raised Willow’s mom. You can’t help but root for her because you, too, need to know her history.

Willow shares her pain because she needs Mason’s help to trace the truth of her family’s path. While Mason is never quite able to share his grief with Willow, she knows its depth from accidentally reading his journal. And while the reader cheers their small victories as they uncover parts of her mom’s past, it is Mason’s solo plight of foster care and addiction that kept me engaged.

Most of the story is light and fun, while the character’s inner journeys are heart-wrenching and raw.

Thankfully, love conquers all.

For more information on Jenna Evans Welch or her books go to https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Jenna-Evans-Welch/474883466


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