Review: Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly

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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by Tor Teen
Source: Raincoast Books/Tor Teen

Tina Connolly’s Seriously Wicked is a breezy supernatural story about a girl, her adopted witch-mother, and coming to terms with your heritage, warty though it may be (just kidding, warts do not make an appearance in this novel). When Camellia’s adopted mother who is a witch by profession attempts to seal a demon she has summoned into a mannequin, things, due to goat blood actually being cow blood, go awry. The summoned demon makes his escape into the body of the hapless boy-band boy who has the misfortune to be present when he is. The demon has a window of 3 or so days within which to complete the missions given to him by the witch and which he is contractually bound to complete. Because in three days, a phoenix is going to erupt at Camellia’s high school (where else?) and the witch has plans to harness the power given off by the phoenix-explosion to change things around their town by getting herself elected as mayor. Oh and Camellia also has to figure out how to uproot the demon from the boy-band boy before boy’s soul has been consumed by said demon and he can no longer go back to his boy-band ways.

So…Camellia is busy what with stopping her adopted mother from taking over the…city and saving the boy she may like. As I said before the book is breezy both in tone and execution. There are no surprising plot twists or complexities to make the reading experience a rich and multi-layered one. Though this book is ostensibly marketed to YA/MG readers, I think it is ultimately more suitable for younger readers. (I read this right after I read Hardinge’s The Lie Tree and it’s difficult to believe that both books are targeted at the same audience.) Maybe it is because I am an adult reader and approached this book with expectations of a complex story that could satisfy readers no matter their age but I was a bit disappointed. Cam doesn’t have much in the way of development of character; she is hideously mean to her best friend, and well, the twist in the plot is not very surprising.

I did wonder why Cam was so adamantly against magic and wondered at her hostility but I feel like the narrative explained it well enough. I did sigh a bit at the tired trope of the ex-best-friend turned meanest-girl though. Also, the portrayal of the girls kissed by the demon in the boy-band boy’s body could be potentially problematic. I did like the exploration of the relationship between the witch and Camellia; the mother-daughter relationship is often fraught with hostility and it is splendid to see the conflict addressed in a candid fashion that does not dismiss either the mother or the daughter.

As for as evaluating the book technically, the prose is solid and the pacing is swift, and those wanting an uncomplicated quick read will probably appreciate Seriously Wicked.