* Giveaway win from I Read YA*
“Season of the Witch” by Sarah Rees Brennan is the prequel novel to the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” exploring what happens to Sabrina the summer before her 16th birthday when she’s supposed to assume her destiny as a witch and give up her mortal lifestyle.
If you’re familiar with the dark version of Sabrina The Teenage Witch thanks to Netflix, then you know Sabrina Spellman lives with her two aunts, Zelda and Hilda; a cousin Ambrose, and her cat Salem. Her friends, who all conveniently have witchy descendant ties in Greendale, are Roz, Susie, and Harvey, her boyfriend. As Sabrina upholds her regular life, she’s battling the satanic forces bound by her family where she’s expected to give up on her mortal best friends and Baxter High for the Academy of Unseen Arts and battle with the three witch sisters: Prudence, Dorcas, and Agatha.
In this story, Sabrina worries Harvey doesn’t love her since they’re not officially in a relationship after a year of dating. Since she’s about to come into her witching ways, she asks Ambrose to help her cast a love spell. Except Ambrose takes over the spell with Sabrina forgetting the words. Then Harvey starts to act strangely with showing his affection for Sabrina, who keeps worrying that Ambrose may have tricked her with putting the wrong spell on Harvey. As she worries, Sabrina befriends a water spirit in the woods that seems to understand what’s at stake. But Sabrina realizes more is at stake as she comes into her own magic.
My copy is an uncorrected proof, so this scene might’ve been cut out. But the scene of Ambrose’s Blackness being singled out while he’s flirting with a mail carrier stuck out to me. The carrier is surprised to see Sabrina as Ambrose’s cousin and explains the surprise since Ambrose is “African-American.” Which he’s not. He’s from Britain, but later Prudence, who’s also Black in the TV series, is just described as having a dark complexion. Race is irrelevant to the story except for Roz, who is African-American with a preacher father and genetic blindness from her slave descendants relevant to witchery. It seemed like an awkward moment yet expressed a bigger issue of how nonwhiteness has to be pointed out in a kid’s book when the character’s race is not central to the story.
Overall, the book is a fun, dark young adult read that pairs well with the Netflix series. It gets wordy in the descriptions to the point where the book felt a tad longer than it needed to be. There are black-paged chapters in the book to describe backstories to the other characters though not all backstories become a strong thread in the book but maybe will in later novels.