Review of ‘The Scapegracers’ by Hannah Abigail Clarke
This book was weird in some of the best ways possible and I had a blast reading it. This is YA paranormal novel but to get technical it’s almost more magical realism with witches and at times almost borders on horror. I could see Clarke writing a horror book in the future and easily excelling at it. This looks to be Clarke’s debut which is impressive if true. This is the first book in the series and I just hope the wait is not too long for the next.
Over the years I have found my love for YA steadily growing. I’ve come to realize there are about three different types of YA. There is YA that feels pretty young so that it is more for a young audience. Then there is the opposite where the YA book feels like it is written for grownups instead of teenagers. And lastly, where this book fits in, YA that makes you reminisce for your younger years. It almost feels good since it brings back feelings of a simpler time yet still filled with plenty of life-defining angst. When I was a teenager, in the ’90s, teen movies had this huge boom.
There were a million comedy and rom-com teen movies like ‘Clueless’, ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’, and ’10 Things I Hate About You’. But at the same time, there was also a rash of teen movies that were surprisingly inappropriate for us teenagers because they were filled with violence, sex, or both. And yet these mostly R rated movies were marketed right to us teens and we ate them up like candy. Movies like ‘Scream’, ‘Final Destination’, ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’, ‘The Faculty’, ‘Wild Things’, ‘Jawbreaker’, and one in particular that I watched way too much, ‘The Craft’. I loved that movie as a teen and this book reminded me of it. One of the main differences is that this book was better. This book was what I wish ‘The Craft’ would have been. My 14-year-old self would have just loved this book to pieces and my 38-year-old self was pretty happy with it too.
Now I do have to mention that the writing style is very different. It’s not purple prose but it’s very descriptive. At first, I was like what is this? After the first chapter or two, it just clicked and became easy. It actually became so comfortable that I almost started to crave it, which is not normal because I don’t usually like overly descriptive styles… but I was hooked. So please don’t get discouraged in the beginning, give it a chance because it will eventually click and get much better.
I’m a character-driven reader and that is what this book really is. If you are more of a plot-driven reader, you probably will have some issues with this read. Everything in my paranormal loving heart wanted to give this book 5 stars but I could not because of the plot issues. It is just not strong enough in certain places and wanders at times. But, the characterization of this book was wonderful. It is in first person POV so you become very connected with the main character Sideways, which is her name because she’s “not straight”. Not only do you become connected with her, but because of the overly descriptive writing style, you feel, see, hear, and even smell what she does. This psychic distance is so wonderfully close and is exactly why I love a well written first-person story.
While this is in first, this is a book with an ensemble cast. This story is about three other teenage girls too. What is really nice is that you feel like you connect and really know all of them, not just Sideways. That is hard to do in first but Clarke completely pulled it off, probably because this book is so character-driven and overly descriptive. Yes, there are some plot issues here, but this is the first book in a series. For me this book was all about meeting, connecting, and caring about the characters, and hopefully, the next book(s) to come will be more plot-driven.
The sexual diversity in this book was nice with lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual main characters. I don’t really think I can put a romance tag on this book, but there are wlw crushes and dates that go on. When it comes to the dates everything is very early stages and there is nothing more than a kiss or two. I’m rooting for a potential couple and I’m hoping another character finds some teenage love but I’ll have to see what book 2 holds.
I do have to mention a complaint that may seem a little petty. I hate the title! I get what it means from reading the book, but every time I look at it I read SPACE Gracers and I think oh this must be one of my new sci-fi books. Maybe I’m the only one in the world, but I cannot see this title without the word ‘space’ and if I just glanced at the cover, I would never know that this book held all this witchy goodness inside.
I can already tell by some of the early reviews that this book won’t be for everyone. As I already mentioned, if you are not a character-driven reader you might struggle a bit. I have high hopes for the possibilities of book 2 including some of the plot bumps being ironed out. The magic system also needs more explanation, but what is there I really like so far. The writing style is also unusual, to say the least, but I loved it. This book does end on a bit of a cliffhanger. To me, it’s a palatable cliffy and not a pull your hair out cliffy. I want book 2 to come more just because I enjoyed this one so much. This book was not perfect, but it was everything I was hoping for and I’m a happy camper right now. 4.25 Stars.
An ARC was given to me for an honest review.