Be Careful What You Witch For
by Thomas Hoobler
Publication Date: January 18th 2016
Find This Book: Be Careful What You Witch For
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
So the very first qualm I have with this book is that I thought it would be a cool story about a teenage witch, but this girl is a completely un-relatable, pretentious rich girl. And by rich I mean “both of her parents are famous movie stars, her family is rolling in it” rich. She’s used to servants and chefs doing everything for her and her mother dictating where and when she ate and of course has a bit of culture shock when she moves in with her Aunt in NYC while her parents are both filming in Egypt.
Olivia starts her first day of ninth grade of right (yeah ninth grade, and she’s a REALLY immature ninth grader) by befriending the two school outcasts and charming the hottest boy in her grade, Alex, to pretty much follow her around and be her loyal servant. And by charmed I mean literally. This boy is written to be was weak-minded and dumb as possible. His only apparent talent is his large collection of X-Men comics which he knows like the back of his hand. Aka he reads a lot and has an incredible memory. Two skills that Olivia and the author seem to dismiss. Yeah comics have pictures, but they also include lots of words and complex thoughts and he obviously absorbed all of it so how is it that a character like this is also portrayed as dumb? How is it that a character that reads so much and so easily is consistently made fun of for not being able to spell of know the right word for things? The way Alex is depicted is absolutely ridiculous! Olivia even stoops so low as to think that Alex is an animal who can be her Witch Familiar. It’s disturbing really.
Additionally, Olivia is written as extremely racist. For example, her first taxi driver wore a turban, which seemingly always reminds her of terrorism. Additionally, her next taxi driver, René, has an apparent French accent, but according to her he can't possibly have a French accent because he's black. Cause obviously there's not a single black person who can speak French. Because the French colonialism of Africa and the Caribbean clearly never happened, and there are evidently no people of color living in France. Seriously, this is a disturbing mentality to read.
The two friends that she made, Dulcimer and Paul, were quite interesting. Dulcimer is the daughter of two amazing, professional musicians, yet she can’t play anything herself. Paul seems to be the only person of color in the story and also happens to be gay. My first impression was that at least they tried to be diverse, but then about 2/3 of the way through the book Olivia decides that both of her friends would be happier not being themselves. So she decides to cast a magic spell on Dulcimer to enable her to be an awesome musician like her parents. Surprise, Surprise this ends up changing Dulcimer’s personality because people aren’t like machines where you can replace one singular part. What really pissed me off about this book is that Olivia, even after seeing the fallout from Dulcimer, decides to bring Paul in on her Witch secret and offers to use a spell on him to make him straight. I though this was going to be a semi-nice book about accepting diversity but nope, she wants to “fix” her gay friend and turn him white while she’s at it. It was a pretty disgusting scene. When he angrily turns down her proposition (thank god) she gets angry that nobody appreciates her and curses the school. When literally the entire book so far was her Aunt Tilda and her neighbor Eva telling her to pretty much not do magic and, if she does, to only use magic that won’t hurt anyone else. So now on top of EVERYTHING ELSE this ninth grade girl has decided to unleash 7 demons upon the school until everyone in the building is deceased. Wow. Great Going. Totally didn’t see that coming. At the same time I totally though she wasn’t idiotic enough to do that.
I honestly thought from the blurb that this book had some intriguing potential. Tone the girl’s background down a bit, create some 3 dimensional characters and add a bit more intelligence/general reasonability and this could have been a fabulous book. I will say the pure silly ridiculousness of the story line kind of made this book enjoyable. If you’re looking for a mediocre YA read to break up the dullness of your day, or are interested in a book including Wicca (though I personally don’t know how well represented the subject is) then this book may interest you.