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What the Spell is Happening?

Well, this is a book that Erin read.

What the Spell is Happening?

BOOK REPORT for What the Spell? by Brittany Geragotelis

Cover Story: A World of No
BFF Charm: Oh SPELL No!
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Like, Sooo Shallow
Anti-Bonus Factors: Most Involved Counselor Ever, The Elite
Relationship Status: Thanks for the Catch Phrase!

Cover Story: A World of No

WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE THEY DOING?  What is this book cover?  Is this a book cover that people will actually, you know, want to buy?  Because it is TERRIBAD.  I mean, I like pink as much as the next person, but there's just so, so much pink going on right now.  Which wouldn't even be that bad if it weren't for this weird, smirky girl on the cover, spelling out words with her finger.  There is just none of this that is okay.  It doesn't even BORDER on okay.  If "Okay" were a country, it'd be New Zealand, and this book would be, I dunno, ICELAND.  IT IS ON ANOTHER HEMISPHERE FROM OKAY.

The Deal:

When Brooklyn (whom one must assume was conceived there?  Are her parents Posh and Becks?) turns 16, she finally gets to come into her witch powers.  See, her parents bound her powers when she was just a newborn, preferring that their daughter learn to wash dishes and clean her room and dress herself, rather than just say "Abacadabra" and, I don't know, use "Accio champ can!" like I constantly try to do.  (P.S. It doesn't work.  I worry that I may be a Muggle.)  They're somewhat concerned that Brooklyn may use her powers for evil, which is why it makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE that they are finally letting her be a witch when she's SIXTEEN.  Of the many, many decisions I made when I was 16, a sum total of NONE OF THEM were good decisions.  Brooklyn's parents are idiots.

So at least Brooklyn comes by her own idiocy naturally!  Unpopular and unnoticed, she decides to give herself a magical makeover and suddenly, ta da!  She's being noticed by the most popular kids in school, a group called The Elite.  Yes.  They are actually called that.  They actually call THEMSELVES that.  Why is this happening to me?

But will The Elite's influence lead Brooklyn to the Dark Side?  Oh wait, I forgot that I didn't care if you read this book.  Yeah.  They will.  


Man, I loathed Brooklyn with the fire of a thousand Targaryeon dragons.  She is an IDIOT.  And also, she honestly has nothing to recommend her to people.  She's not particularly nice, she's not particularly smart, she's definitely not funny.  Like, obviously you have no friends, honey!  Look at you!    I wouldn't want to be your friend even when you BECOME a witch, because you're just a weird creepster who A) drinks a milkshake every day, like, what?  Cholesterol is a silent killer, my friend, and also, B) you hang out with the guidance counselor all the time!  Maybe you should try to, like, be nice to people and befriend them?  Rather than just whine about how no one will put forth the enormous effort to hang out with you?

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

So, check it while I wreck the decks with these haikus which describe the nature of Brooklyn's love for Asher, her new boyfriend.

Mystery loner
You stare at the witch at school
Only when she's hot


Asher to Asher
Dust is almost as boring
As you and Brook are


Random plot bunnies
Your family disappears
Are we meant to care?

Talky Talk: Like, Sooo Shallow

Man, this book.  Why is it marketed at a YA audience?  This book is solidly middle-school, if not late-elementary-school, in both feel and substance - a frothy light read about the perils of changing to fit in with the popular crowd.  In fact, I think I wrote a story just like this WHILE I WAS IN MIDDLE GRADE.  And it's not that I particularly mind light, frothy reads - hello, my two favorite contemporary authors are Meg Cabot and Nora Roberts - but there still needs to be something to say in the midst of that froth.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Most Involved Counselor EVER

Y'all.  Y'ALL.  I do not know WHAT the spell Ms Gia, the school's guidance counselor, is smoking but I bet it ain't herbal and harvested by moonlight, cause she is CRAZY INVOLVED with Brooklyn's life.  Like, sure, good guidance counselors are always going to take a special interest in some of their students, but this lady is taking special interest way too far.  Like, she calls Brooklyn her best friend (what?  no!) and she gets mad when Brooklyn bails on their daily lunchtime chats to eat with people her own age, and she keeps telling Brooklyn about how popularity isn't everything because once you get to college it turns out that no one cares who you were in high school, and yes, that is true, but jeez, lady, what are you, my mother?  Give it a fucking rest.

Anti-Bonus Factor: The Elite

I just cannot take seriously a group of people who actually refer to themselves as "the Elite," and manage to do so without laughing hysterically.  Sure, we had names for all of the cliques in my high school, and some even self-identified as kickers or skaters ("kickers" is a Houston-area nickname for the 4H-loving, farm-raised cowboys and cowgirls at school, due to an old country radio station's call sign of KIKK.) but I am pretty sure that no one in my high school was like, "Oh, I'm part of the Preppies*.  Don't you wish you were a Preppy too?"  

*yeah, I went to high school in the 90s, quite clearly.

Casting Call:

Rachael Leigh Cook as Brooklyn

Brook gives herself a magical makeover in this book, so obvs I need someone with experience in the "just stop wearing glasses" school of looking pretty.

Christopher Sean as Asher

Well, Asher IS supposed to be hot, and he seems as if he could be Asian, so I took this opportunity to cast Bing Lee.

Relationship Status: Thanks For the Catch Phrase!

Like that poem about that dude who walks on the beach a lot, sometimes a book walks side by side with you, and it leaves two sets of footprints.  Well, one set of footprints.  Books don't have feet so I guess it just leaves a groove in the sand from where the book dragged itself.  But maybe you don't have feet either.  I don't want to presume things about your body.  Let's just say that when you and a book walk down the beach, some sort of prints are left in the sand.  Unless you're using a Hoverboard.  Fuck!  This analogy is hard!

Anyway, but sometimes, a book carries you, kind of like a Hoverboard would do, only metaphorically instead lf eventually-literally.  And in those times, you know that your need was greatest.  But this book did not carry me; I carried it.  But not in public because I didn't want to be judged by strangers.  And it didn't really give me anything except this new catch phrase, "What the spell!"  I've already used it several times today.  Next I'm going to branch off and start saying things like, "SPELL NO!" and "Go to Spell!"  

So, I guess, thanks for that, book.  I'll see you in Spell!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from Simon and Schuster.  I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!).  What the Spell? is available in stores now.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.