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The Witch of November

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead...

The Witch of November

BOOK REPORT for The November Girl by Lydia Kang

Cover Story: All That Remains is the Faces and the Names
Drinking Buddy: A Crew and Good Captain Well-Seasoned
Testosterone Level: Steams Like a Young Man's Dreams
Talky Talk: The Legend Lives On
Bonus Factor: The Big Lake They Called 'Gitche Gumee'
Bromance Status: Fellas, It's Been Good to Know Ya

Cover Story: All That Remains is the Faces and the Names

More teen faces. The underwater shot is nice, though I can't shake the feeling this girl is about to burst out into a chorus of Let it Go.

The Deal:

Hector, a seventeen-year-old half-Korean, half-black kid, is fed up with everything. His father has abandoned him to live a soldier's life in Germany. His mother is still back in Korea. And the uncle he lives with...let's just say they don't see eye to eye. Hector has taken to cutting himself and burning his arms with cigarettes. Eventually, he hatches a plan. He'll take the last ferry to Isle Royal on Lake Superior, the day they close everything down for the season. He'll hide himself, and spend the winter alone. When May comes, he'll be eighteen, legally an adult.

But as it turns out, he's not alone on the island. There's Anda, the daughter of a park worker. She and her father don't get along, and she's going to spend November alone as well.

But the thing is, Anda isn't just a petulant teen. Rather, she's the daughter of a mortal man and Gracie, the very spirit of Lake Superior. She's the November Witch, the frightening storm that all lake sailors fear. She feeds upon the lives of drowned men. She hungers for their life forces, and Hector is just another tasty morsel...goodness, he's kind of cute up close. And so helpless...No! Never!

Drinking Buddy: A Crew and Good Captain Well-Seasoned

Hector and Anda were quite a pair. They alternate narration of each chapter. Hector is gloomy and confused, constantly second-guessing himself. He's intrigued by this strange girl, but her propensity to run around in sub-zero weather wearing nothing but a nightgown makes him wonder if she has some kind of mental disability.

Anda doesn't really understand human concepts. She can describe the island's ecosystem and geology like a college professor, but has never had an actual friend before. She keeps meaning to kill and devour Hector, but somehow she ends up looking out for him instead.

It's going to be an interesting November.

Testosterone Level: Steams Like a Young Man's Dreams

Now let's be blunt about this: Anda kills people. She lives on the dreams and memories of drowned men. The voice of her mother commands her to kill Hector, to lure him into the water...but somehow she can't.

Hector, after witnessing Anda call up a storm that drowns a retiree on a sailboat, wants nothing to do with her. At first. But there is something to be said for an immortal and undying force of nature, who's kind of sweet on you.

In the meantime, the two kids go blundering through the freezing Michigan November. Hector is from Duluth and didn't really think through this hard core roughing it, and would have died a dozen times had Anda not been watching out for him. Anda is not used to human customs, such as eating food. When Hector introduces her to Hershy Bars, she wonders if maybe there is another life out there for  her. Meanwhile, her mother is getting increasingly angry and the island becomes less hospitable.

Talky Talk: The Legend Lives On

Despite this being a first person POV book, there's a lot we don't find out about our heroes until the very end. Why did Hector risk his life to get away from his uncle, rather than toughing things out a few more months? Where did Anda come from? What's the deal with her mortal father? Sometimes I felt like things were being deliberately kept from me to make the book more intense.

But I liked Hector and Anda (despite, you know, all the deliberate drownings). Hector, being biracial, is used to not fitting in, either in Korea or white America.He can kind of understand what it's like to be half-mortal, half-wind witch. Kind of.

And if things don't work out, Anda can always feast on his life force. We can still be friends.

Bonus Factor: The Big Lake They Called 'Gitche Gumee'

Isle Royal is a real national park (at least until the president decides to drill for oil there). This is a nice look at the beautiful Great Lakes, their pristine beauty, and the dozens and dozens of shipwrecks that litter their beds.

Bromance Status: Fellas, It's Been Good to Know Ya

I enjoyed our time together. Perhaps one day I'll take my family to see Isle Royal in person. Then again, we may just stay home and listen to Gordon Lightfoot.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Entangled Teen. No money or beer, however.

 

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.