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Reviewed by:
  • Spellhacker by M. K. England
  • Alaine Martaus

England, M. K. Spellhacker. HarperTeen, 2020 [416p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-265770-1 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-265772-5 $9.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12

For years, Diz and her fellow spell-plague orphan friends have pulled an untold number of daring heists, siphoning magic from the corrupt corporation that controls it. Now they're going for one last big heist, but their actions cause a devastating explosion. Suddenly on the run, Diz and company learn that the whole thing might not have been an accident but instead a trap designed to kill them. The search to discover who wants them dead and why uncovers more dangerous truths, and now they must decide: hide and hope they aren't caught, or risk it all to save themselves, their city, and maybe the world from environmental catastrophe. This queer-positive techno-fantasy effectively combines edge of your seat action with edge of adulthood drama. The world building is solidly unique, with a seamless blend of magic and technology that is revealed rather than explained, while the narrative stakes are raised by an environmental conscience that feels contemporarily relevant but isn't too preachy. Diz is expected but still enjoyable as a talented outcast turned rebel with a traumatic past, and her friends are especially compelling. The novel makes full use of its diverse supporting cast without drawing attention to their diversity, including a romantic interest with no stated gender who uses the singular "they" pronoun, ultimately affirming the value of the family you make. The plot strains a little in its close, but the book as a whole offers plenty of fresh, inventive fun that will leave readers hoping for sequels. [End Page 206]



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Launched on MUSE
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