Book Review: The Scapegracers

Hannah Abigail Clarke

Rating: 5 out of 5.

published: 12th May 2020
spoilers? no


An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.

Skulking near the bottom of West High’s social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she’s had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now–unbelievably–Sideways’ best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend, and elude the fundamentalist witch hunters hellbent stealing their magic. But for Sideways, the hardest part is the whole ‘having friends’ thing. Who knew that balancing human interaction with supernatural peril could be so complicated?

Rich with the urgency of feral youth, The Scapegracers explores growing up and complex female friendship with all the rage of a teenage girl. It subverts the trope of competitive mean girls and instead portrays a mercilessly supportive clique of diverse and vivid characters. It is an atmospheric, voice-driven novel of the occult, and the first of a three-book series.

I guess my point is that teenage girls aren’t supposed to be powerful, you know? Everybody hates teenage girls. They hate our bodies and hate us if we want to change them. They hate the things we’re supposed to like but hate it when we like other things even more, because that means we’re ruining their things. We’re somehow this great corrupting influence, even though we’ve barely got legal agency of our own. But the three of us – the four of us, counting you – we’re powerful.

Galley provided by publisher

There’s nothing like attempting to find the words to review a book you loved because you don’t actually know how to explain just how much you did love it. So if this review ends up in rambling territory, please look away.

The Scapegracers is about Sideways Pike, a lesbian witch, who finds herself the new member of a friendship group with a popular clique of girls after she does magic with them at a Halloween party. Then things start to get weird, involving a curse on a boy, a cute girl, and a creepy family of witch hunters.

The number one best thing about this book hands down was how it centered on a group of girls. And a group of girls who would do anything for one another, at that. Which, I think we can all agree, is the best of tropes. Much of the focus on the book is on their friendship which meant, even when I felt the plot maybe drifted, I still loved it because of them. I just loved that these characters are supposedly “mean girls” but the book completely subverts that by giving them this intense and fierce love for one another which they extend so easily to the main character as well. In fact, there is not one instance of a girl hating another girl in the whole book (at least, not for the usual spurious reasons). It’s so refreshing.

That’s basically the selling point of this book for me, but there’s also witchcraft (and it’s interesting how it’s a world where this is normalised, I liked that take on it), and getting revenge on skeevy boys (always excellent), and my favourite character of all, Mr. Scratch (you’ll see why). It’s one of those books that I just have nothing bad to say about. I loved it and I already want to reread it. Oh, and of course, Daisy is the token straight main character. I went in expecting just a lesbian main character, I came out with two more sapphic characters, and some gay parents. Just how I like it.

Finally, it’s a grower of a book, in a good way. The first chapter may seem a little weird, but you get into it, and you become absorbed by the characters, so much so that you don’t even notice the book going by.

Which, really, just makes it the best kind of book.

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