In this fierce debut, a trilogy opener, Clarke conjures up a powerful, passionate tale of female friendship and found family. Senior Sideways Pike, a witch, is used to being considered a social outcast, but when the three most popular girls at school pay her $40 to spice up a Halloween party with a little magic, she accepts. Her spell spirals out of control and leaves chalk sigils and runes all over the house, making an impression upon her fellow high schoolers. The clique adopts her as their own, and the four soon form a coven, exacting vengeance upon their enemies and exploring the depths of their new magical and emotional connections. As Sideways and her new friends—Yates, Jing, and Daisy—grow comfortable with their power, they’re hunted by a family dedicated to “purifying the world” by eradicating magic. Sideways’s lyrically defiant voice memorably conveys the group’s rough-edged intimacy, and messages about magic’s ambiguity and teenage girls’ power grants this story a complex edge. Unapologetically queer—many of the characters, including Sideways and her adoptive dads, fall under the LGBTQ umbrella—and seething with raw emotion, this fantasy opens strong while leaving much to be explored in future installments. Ages 14–up. Agent: Abby Schulman, Rebecca Friedman Literary. (May)
"Loner, lesbian teenage witch Sideways bubbles with nerves, insecurities, and longing in this action packed debut from a young queer writer. Jam packed with intensity of feeling ALL the feelings, Clarke takes us on a roller coaster ride, oscillating between headiness of recognizing one’s own power, first date nerves, trying to smash the patriarchy while looking great at a party, and the dizzying joy of finding your clan. Bonus points for super sweet gay dads and all around great representation of diverse characters." —Chana Porter, author of The Seep "The Scapegracers wallops you with all the raw, thrilling vertigo of young love and new friendship, alongside a deeply-plotted mythology that will delight any magic fan. It's a jewel-studded book, with an unearthly glow. You will definitely want to join this coven." —Jess Zimmerman, author of Basic Witches "Sapphic teenage witches and slippery vengeance magic? Yes, please! Clarke’s entertaining debut captures all the pleasure and pathos of viciously loyal high school cliques.” —Katharine Duckett, author of Miranda in Milan "This is the dark, twisty, witchy book I've always wanted. Hannah's writing is brilliant and gorgeous and firework bright." —Kat Howard, author of An Unkindness of Magicians "The magic especially intrigued me—so spooky and weird and dangerous but addictive." —Shveta Thakrar, author of Star Daughter “A fierce and magnificent debut, raw and wet as bloody scratches from manicured nails…. Clarke tells a violently beautiful story of the magic girls make together, whom it threatens and whom it attracts…. I loved everything about this book, from the hot, suturing needle of Clarke’s prose to the broken-glass grind of Sideways’s voice. Clarke’s girls are glittering and terrifying, in love with one another and in opposition to the world that disdains and desires them…. As tender and intimate as it is ferocious and volatile, Scapegracers deserves to be this generation’s go-to grimoire. May it launch a thousand covens of angry, loving, brilliant girls.” —Amal El-Mohtar in The New York Times Book Review Holiday Books Guide “In this fierce debut, a trilogy opener, Clarke conjures up a powerful, passionate tale of female friendship and found family. . . Unapologetically queer . . . and seething with raw emotion, this fantasy opens strong while leaving much to be explored in future installments.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “Readers will love the spooky pop-culture easter eggs and appreciate a fresh spin on the mean girls theme: Readers won’t despise, but will root for, this cunning, crass, and fiercely caring coven. Bitingly honest, fast-paced dialogue is a solid strength, as is the lyrical language, which is so intimate that readers will viscerally know how magic and emotions feel in Sideways’ body. . . Teenage girl magic is palpable, urgent, and simply marvelous in this must-have debut.” —Kirkus, starred review
Gr 9 Up—Three popular senior girls think Eloise "Sideways" Pike is a "skulky, gap-toothed weirdo," but that doesn't prevent them from paying her to produce magic at an early Halloween party. The results pretty much freak them out, and birth a complicated friendship among Jing, Yates, Daisy and Sideways, who need to figure out why there are dead deer, what to do about the witch-hunting Chantrys, and how to control the magic it appears everyone in the foursome can tap into. Although Sideways now has friends who understand "the witch thing," life is still complicated. The multi-volume Vade Mecvm Magici, the escape of Mr. Scratch, and efforts to matchmake for Sideways and Madeline alternately strengthen their friendships and drive them apart. F-bombs abound, but the language comes across as real for these sometimes snarky, sometimes brave companions, who don't fit neatly into traditional roles. The ending is satisfying, and indicates this may be the first in a series. VERDICT Dark and brooding, with a literary style and a hearty dose of witchcraft. Suggest to fans of Maggie Stiefvater, Melina Marchetta, and Holly Black.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Since becoming an orphan at 7, it’s mainly been Sideways Pike and her spell book—until a raucous Halloween party blasts her world open.
In the West High social hierarchy, Jing, Daisy, and Yates are the queen bees who rule the roost. When they hire Sideways—offering her $40 in exchange for casting a spell to make their party the best of the season—the result isn’t only memorably spooky, thanks to the unbelievable creep factor à la Sideways, but also a disturbing mystery that bonds all four girls. To Sideways’ utter bewilderment, the triumvirate fiercely claims her, and she’s now a member of the most badass girl clique. Their camaraderie strengthens with each narrow escape as they curse toxic males and witch hunters and build their collective power. Readers will love the spooky pop-culture easter eggs and appreciate a fresh spin on the mean girls theme: Readers won’t despise, but will root for, this cunning, crass, and fiercely caring coven. Bitingly honest, fast-paced dialogue is a solid strength, as is the lyrical language, which is so intimate that readers will viscerally know how magic and emotions feel in Sideways’ body. Jing is cued as Chinese American, Yates is black, and all other characters are presumed white, including Sideways, who is lesbian, and her two adoptive dads.
Teenage girl magic is palpable, urgent, and simply marvelous in this must-have debut. (Paranormal. 15-18)