Review | The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke ★★

“I opened my jaws and felt myself almost say something awful and significantly gayer than I intended, but I drowned the words before they could slither out.”

I received this e-book from NetGalley. This does not affect my review or opinion. All thoughts are my own and I’m being 100 percent honest. Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for providing me this e-book for reviewing purposes.

A novel full of sapphic witches and wicked friendships that should’ve been exactly my thing, but wasn’t


Scapegracers is something, that’s for sure. I have really mixed feelings about this book. This is the first time I really struggled to give a rating to a book. There were good things about this novel but overall it was really confusing and most of the time I didn’t understand what was happening. This book definitely wasn’t for me.

Synopsis
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 on 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.

This cover is gorgeous! Don’t really have anything other to say than that. Wow!

So, first of all, I want to mention that I don’t hate this book. It had fantastic elements in it like the amazing friendships and wicked magic.

The author starts off with an amazing scene, and I am immediately hooked. I get high hopes for this book. The start is excellent: fast-paced and full of excitement and action. But then after the big entrance, you’re left with random scenes that don’t really have anything to do with the plot. A lot of those scenes felt quite empty. Nothing was happening in them and they were irrelevant to the story. You could easily skip some pages.

So I did really really love the friendships in The Scapegracers. I feel like if you are looking for a reason to read this book, it would be the wonderful friendships in it. I do have to say that the characters in this book become friends in seconds, which is a bit weird since they go to the same school and have met before. I enjoyed this wicked sisterhood.

The amount of representation in this book is really good. If I’m not wrong there is a lesbian main character, a bisexual side character, a queer side character, and two characters of color. The author did an amazing job with the amount of representation in The Scapegracers and I definitely wanted to point that out.

There were a lot of weird sentences in The Scapegracers that made me laugh. I’ll give some examples:

  • “Do you feel that?” The words whistled through the gap between my front teeth before I could stop them.
  • I zipped up my jacket and mouthed a cussy prayer that my vegan leather might suddenly be warmer than it was, but it wasn’t, because of course it fucking wasn’t.
  • Madeline watching me was a physical thing. I felt it like an X-ray, like she was mapping my skull for craters.

I also expected more from the f/f relationship in The Scapegracers. I feel like the characters’ connection was a bit forced.

After finishing the book I still felt confused as to what I had just read. I feel honestly really bad for writing a negative review because I really wanted to like The Scapegracers and I loved the whole idea of it, but it just wasn’t a book for me.

Would I recommend it?
I don’t think I would, no. I read another review saying that if you’re a fan of Riverdale you would probably like this book and I agree.


Trigger warnings
Witchcraft, dead animals, kidnapping, assault (kind of sexual assault), homophobia
Representation in this book
LGBTQIA+ representation, bisexual side character, queer side character, lesbian main character, POC side characters
Genre
Young adult, fantasy
Publication date
September 15, 2020
Publisher
Erewhon Books
About the author
Hannah Abigail Clarke is here and queer, etc. They have been published in Lunch Ticket,PRISM international, Dream Pop Press, Portland Review,Gothic Nature Journal,Eidolon, and Chaleur Magazine. They were a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellow in Young Adult Fiction and a Pushcart nominee.  They currently research queerness, labor, and monstrosity in grad school. The Scapegracers is their first novel.


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