- Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster
Aster, Alex Curse of the Night Witch. Sourcebooks, 2020 [352p] (Emblem Island) Trade ed. ISBN 9781492697206 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781492697213 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-7
On Emblem Island, where everyone is stamped with a fate-determining mark at birth, twelve-year-old Tor Luna has a leadership emblem he dislikes. During an island ritual in which denizens of Emblem Island make wishes, Tor wishes to switch his emblem to suit his love of swimming but wakes up with an imprint of a cursed eye instead. Since curses are enacted by the Night Witch, Tor, his food-loving friend Engle, and know-it-all classmate Melda set out together to seek a cure. Aster's vibrant island, where gems are cooked into delicious pies and myths foreshadow the characters' obstacles, is imbued with playful magic; characters and places named after stars and constellations lend everything a dreamy feel. Though the pacing is occasionally choppy, the beginning is beautifully built up and the ending satisfyingly twisty, with promises of more adventures to come.