Australian author Shivaun Plozza won multiple awards for her debut novel Frankie and has since gone on to write both YA and middle-grade books such as Tin Heart and The Boy, The Wolf and the Stars. A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic is her 4th book and second delve into the middle-grade category.
12-year-old Willa hates the ongoing war between the two witch clans on either side of the normal city of Bad Faith. Wayward spells often miss their witch targets and end up causing havoc throughout the city of regular folk and there is only so much frog rain that one can handle. So, when she is accused of being a witch herself, Willa is certain that it is all some terrible mistake even if odd things do seem to be happening around her all the time. By royal decree Willa is taken to the castle where she learns all about spells, witchcraft, and the two waring covens of witches, one of which she will have to join and be initiated into before her 13th birthday.
If she doesn’t choose a coven then her wild magic will become unstoppable and she will explode! While trying to avoid her seemingly inevitable fate, Willa turns to her newfound friends, Gish, the castle dogsbody, Marceline, the palace librarian, and Talon, one of her most faithful cat companions, in the hope of trying to find a different path. But with her Wild magic starting to fizz out of control, a rogue witch on the loose, and the impending explosion seemingly speeding up, Willa may have to make a decision sooner than her 13th birthday in order to save not only herself but the entire city of Bad Faith!
A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic is a wonderfully ridiculous and sometimes disgusting book that will delight many a young reader. Both covens of witches are absurdly gross and described in all their terrible glory that really does make the reader thing that exploding may be a better option to joining either of the covens!
While the general premise of the book is wonderfully fun, the actual execution of the narrative is quite slow at times, especially considering the endless possibilities and large-scale incidents that could have occurred throughout the novel. Overall, A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic will be a wonderful addition to any witch loving reader, and hopefully there is a second book on the horizon as I would like to know more about Willa and her strange catlike magic.