Cover of The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams. Pink and purple cover. A girl facing away from the reader. Her jacket has the books title, as well as a teddy bear, an eight ball, and a lolipop.

About the Book

Title: The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven, #1)
Published: 2019

Cover Story: Bad to the Bone
Drinking Buddy: Juice Box
MPAA Rating: PG (cartoonish violence)
Talky Talk: The Phone Calls Are Coming From Upstairs!
Bonus Factors: Babysitting, 80s Pop Culture
Bromance Status: Business Arrangement

Cover Story: Bad to the Bone

I love the pink hues and the decapitated teddy bear. This is definitely a cover that draws you.

The Deal:

Esme Pearl doesn’t have the greatest social life. She lives in Kansas, for starters. She’s not stunningly beautiful, isn’t very popular, and doesn’t even have her driver’s license at 17. Esme’s mother has been institutionalized after a nervous breakdown and she has trouble relating to her father. She does have one good friend, Janis, the only other member of the Babysitters Club. It’s not really a club, just a couple of girls who can handle any toddler crisis in the area. Life isn’t bad…but it certainly could be better.

Then odd things start happening. One of Esme’s charges somehow winds up on the porch roof, babbling about a stranger in the house. Objects begin moving when Esme gets upset, sometimes to her benefit, sometimes not. And then there’s this new girl, Cassandra. Why is she so obsessed with joining the Babysitters Club? Can she help Esme develop these new powers? And will she introduce Esme to her hot brother, Dion?

Drinking Buddy: Juice Box

Two pints of beer cheersing with a "Denied" stamp over them

Esme was certainly there. She’s a responsible babysitter. She gets lonely and scared, etc. She’s a loyal friend. But when it comes down to it, I can’t think of a single characteristic of Esme’s that makes her noticeable in a sea of YA heroines. Not especially brave or smart or funny or interesting. She simply did not stand out. And when your lead character is dull, then the book becomes dull.

MPAA Rating: PG (cartoonish violence)

So, Esme and Cassandra have godlike powers, which they quickly learn to harness. They can make things move. Start fires. Defeat any security system. Learn any language. Communicate with animals. Alter the memories of others. Bend people to their will.

So do they buy costumes and roam the earth doing good deeds? Or do they pull off a series of bank jobs and retire early? Nope. They hack the school’s computers to change their grades and schedules. They get mild revenge on some bullies. Esme teaches her dog to talk, but quickly loses interest. It’s not until a secondary character reveals the cause and the burden of their powers that they have any sort of direction.

Look, I know they’re teenagers. But if you’d given me superpowers when I was seventeen, I’d have been killed by a government missile years ago.

Talky Talk: The Phone Calls Are Coming From Upstairs!

I had to say that somewhere.

So it turns out that Esme and Cassandra were born into the Sacred Order of the Sitters or something, a group of powerful women whose job it is to protect the universe, and who tend to drift toward babysitting as it suits their natural protective instincts.Their mothers were members. Anyway, there’s some kind of inter-dimensional rift that’s letting in monsters disguised as movie bad guys. Or something.

To be honest, the whole plot read like a seventh grader’s first attempt at outlining a fantasy novel. Esme accidentally hitting a tree was the school’s drivers ed car was a more gripping chapter. It was just a bunch of stuff that happened.

Also, the book has a bad case of Saved by the Bell Syndrome, where all the teachers were stupid, cruel, and physically ugly. Remember, we’re the ones who give out the book recommendations to students.

Bonus Factor: Babysitting

Karen and Andrew looking worried about two bunnies (cover of Baby-Sitters: Little Sisters #83)

Most of us have babysat in one form or another, be it for a younger sibling, a parent’s friend’s kid, or as your own business. Earning some spending money and access to the fridge, not bad. But there’s something kind of creepy about being in a stranger’s house, with a sleeping child and no one else around. There’s a reason so many horror movies focus on this theme. And Esme’s monsters aren’t just shadows or creaky floorboards. Something real and malevolent is menacing her charges, her friend Janis, and herself. Can she become the heroine of this particular slasher film?

Bonus Factor: 1980s Pop Culture

A cassette tape that says "the '80s" on it

Esme and Janis absolutely love thrift store shopping and 1980s pop culture. They randomly choose looks based on old TV shows and movies. Gen Xers like me will enjoy the stroll down memory lane. Wino forever, I remember that! Actual teenagers, however, will not get the unexplained references (You see there was this show called The Cosby Show, and in one episode, the title character’s ditzy daughter gets married in Africa and comes home with a new husband and stepdaughter. And then the title character actor turned out to be a rapist, so we celebrate the show but not him). It happens to all of us, but the 80s are as distant as the 50s were to my generation, and modern kids aren’t going to get these references.

Bromance Status: Business Arrangement

I snagged this title from another FYAer who didn’t finish it, and then felt duty bound to review it. But it was an obligation, not a love affair.

Literary Matchmaking


Summoned by Anne M. Pillsworth, also deals with a kid discovering unholy powers.

How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater

Marc Acito’s How I Paid for College takes us back to the most tubular of decades.

Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club #1)
Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (The Baby-sitters Club #2)
The Truth About Stacey (The Baby-Sitters Club #3)

And of course, the series that started it all.

FTC full disclosure: I received no money for writing this review, nor did I get to stay up past my bedtime.

Brian 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.