Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Wildseed Witch (Wildseed Witch #1)

Dumas, Marti. Wildseed Witch (Wildseed Witch #1)
May 10th 2022 by Amulet Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus
Hasani is not looking forward to summer even though it will give her a lot of time to build her followers on her YouTube channle, MakeupontheCheapCheap. Her mother is busy with work, and she does NOT want to spend time with her father and her new live in girlfriend across town. While driving to her father's house, Hasani gets angry when she learns about Sandy, and a bridge that they are supposed to cross isn't passable, and vines are growing all over it. Later, a woman from Les Belles Demoiselles school comes to Hasani's mother's house and tells her that since she can do magic, she has a scholarship to the school for six weeks. Most of the students who attend come from families where magic has been part of their lives for many years, but Hasani is a "wildseed"; a witch who shows magic even though there is no family history of it. It's hard to fit in to a school on such short notice, with students who have more knowledge of magic and are a bit more privileged as well. Her roommate Celeste isn't thrilled to have to bunk with her, and LaToya and Angelique also give her a hard time. She does befriend Demi-Rose, or Dee, but the two get in trouble for trying to change Hasani's hair with a potion that doesn't go quite as planned. The teachers are somewhat understanding of Hasani's difficulty is understanding magic and the school, but don't seem to be prepared to offer support to a "wildseed", so Hasani struggles both to understand her new magical world and to befriend her fellow witches. She does her best to learn, and her magic is very strong. When she gets home from the school, she learns some alarming things, and gets involved in a problem with one of her followers. Will she be able to come to terms with her new found identity, keep her father safe from an unexpected threat, AND to grow her YouTube channel? 
Strengths: Hasani is a fun character who is super involved in growing her YouTube channel but is surprised to learn that she has magic. This is the dream of a large portion of my students, and Hasani's stay at magical summer camp charm school is wish fulfilment at its finest! Of course, there is girl drama at the school, but she is able to make a good friend or two AND learn to harness her magic. Who among us wouldn't try a magical portion to make our hair different? There are some good magical details about Hasani's classes (Fragrance, The Art of Arranging, Animal Affinities, and TEA!), a general genteel atmosphere of the school ("Magic is for hooligans. Belles demoiselles use charm."), and spells and potions that the girls are able to use, often to interesting effect. There is the added complication of Hasani's parents' recent divorce, and the problems with his new girlfriend to add another layer of interest. I'm glad to see that this will be a series, and am curious to see how Hasani will use her magic in book two. 
Weaknesses: I was hoping that this would have the deliciously complicated world building of Clayton's The Marvellers or Black and Clare's Magisterium series, but more of the book was spent on Hasani's feelings about not fitting in and obsessing about the number of followers for her YouTube channel than details about the classes, food, or school grounds. That will definitely appeal to middle grade readers who love friend drama, but I was dying to know more, especially with the New Orleans area setting. 
What I really think: The cover of this one is so gorgeous that I would buy it for that alone! So many of my students harbor dreams of being YouTube stars that they will enjoy that part of the book more than I did; after 16 years of blogging, I don't even have 400 followers, so books that have young influencers gaining Internet popularity quickly always seem unrealistic to me. Of course, it's completely realistic that Hasani is able to magically grow flowers! Definitely purchasing, and my readers who enjoyed the make up details in Dee's Violets Are Blue or the magical elements of Little's The Time of the Fireflies, Meriano's Love, Sugar, Magic, Scott's School of Charm, or King's Zach King: The Magical Mix-Up will enjoy going to Les Belles Demoiselles along with Hasani. 

Ms. Yingling

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