Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For by Sara Pascoe | Rating: ★★★☆☆
A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
I have this itching desire to read everything witch related that I can get my hands on, so upon reading the brief summary of Sara Pascoe's charming novel Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For it's not surprising to hear that I had to read it. I had a bit of trouble getting into it at first (perhaps I am out of its targeted age range) and there were times I felt like it was all over the place, but for the most part it was a fun read.
The first thing I need to say is that you should give it a bit of time to get into its groove. Because once it gets there, it really gets things moving. Being a Witch and Other Things I Didn't Ask For has its flaws and will certainly not be for everyone, but it's such a solid read that I see it being one of those books. The sort of novel that gets preteens/teens reading for real. I felt out of touch with the way it was written/portrayed sometimes but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Raya is an ordinary teenage girl (or so she thinks) who has lived in foster care and has a backstory that is rich and full of life but she is a teenager. I don't think a lot of adults (or readers in their late teens) will really connect with her or understand how she became who she was at the start of the novel. That's a problem--she is very... she's just not a character I see some of the audience really appreciating. But, I did. I think younger readers will, too.
I thought the pace was a bit too quick and underwhelming in terms of descriptions and plots but this keeps things moving and will surely captivate its target audience. Where I long for more to the story instead of just being told things, this is a good way to grab onto others. Fantasy is hard to write for but the way that Pascoe tangles the real world with these magical elements is fun and smart. It's not difficult to get into (once the story gets into the thick of it) and it just genuinely gives off this vibe that is full of life.
Whilst this was far from my favourite YA read this year, it was still entertaining! I won't be picking it up again for a reread anytime soon but I definitely appreciate it for what it was. Kids--specifically those who are aged 11-16, will enjoy the ride that ensues and love the character of Raya as if she were a friend.