Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis was an edge-of-your-seat paranormal book. Katrell learns she can resurrect the dead and since life is going to hell, she’s willing to burn for it.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
For fans of Us and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comes a witchy story full of black girl magic as one girl’s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her an even darker future.
Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made more money. Clients pay her to talk to their deceased loved ones, but it isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and Mom’s deadbeat boyfriend-of-the-week. Things get worse, when a ghost warns her to stop the summonings or she’ll “burn everything down.” Katrell is willing to call them on their bluff, though. She has no choice.
What do ghosts know about eating peanut butter for dinner?
However, when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.
But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon dark forces are closing in on Katrell.
The further she goes, the more she risks the lives of not only herself, but those she loves. Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.
“Be careful, Katrell. If you’re not, you’ll burn down not only yourself, but everyone and everything around you.”
This story was jarring, in the best of ways. I don’t often provide content warnings in my reviews (this is due to not knowing everyone’s needs). I do want to give a massive warning to pet death/murder and domestic abuse. These are important themes to the story, and so they will be brought up in the book repeatedly. Katrell’s life is absolutely by all definitions, going to shit. There’s an interesting concept of not asking for help when growing up in poverty as Katrell does. You take care of your own, even if they hurt you. This is an ongoing theme and almost the less that Katrell must learn. I really appreciated the way this was woven into a paranormal story.
“You survived for so long by yourself, but it’s okay to lean on other people. It’s okay to lean on me. It’s not over, I swear.”
Katrell and Will can both be incredibly frustrating characters. However, it’s all in realistic ways. Their actions are not supposed to be inherently the most likable. You watch both these characters grow in really interesting ways, and I loved Will as a supportive character. The friendship between them did feel strange to me, at first, but more of it gets worked through than I expected. There is genuine character growth in this book, and it never feels forced.
“It’s true that she’s your family but that doesn’t mean you’re obligated to love her.”
The plot is relatively fast-paced, and once the ball gets rolling, it’s hard to stop! I was on the edge of my seat from about 50% in, wanting to stay up all night to see what happened. The story was dark for many reasons, from paranormal to emotional. The paranormal aspects were fantastic to see and really brought this book to life (or back from the dead? Bad joke, I’ll see myself out). Lewis has really brought something to the table with this book, and I loved it.
“Men always think they can lay hands on women,” Four says.
Five steps into the light next, also smiling. “It’s always the same ones too. Inferior to their victims in every way.”
“They always think because they’re bigger, they can get away with it,” Six says.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.