Majix: Notes from a Serious Teen Witch
by Douglas Rees
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Majix: Notes from a Serious Teen Witch / 978-0-373-21017-6
There's so many Young Adult targeted novels out there dealing with magic and Wicca and witchcraft that it's difficult to swing a crystal in a bookstore without hitting one, but "Majix" is a good example of the genre done well, and I think that any pro-witchcraft family would be pleased to add this book to a daughter's book collection.
There's so much about this story to like that I'm not sure where to start. The plot is fun, if not terribly original - the main character has recently moved to a new school and is having problems adjusting and fitting in. Yet what I like so much about "Majix" is that magic is not some "magic bullet" that solves all her problems. Kestrel's aunt is a practicing witch - and appears to be part of the Dianic tradition - who emphasizes the importance of being calm, collected, and moving with the flow of the universe, and acting as a quiet influence instead of an overt controller.
I'm tempted to say that this is the first YA magic book that really gets it "right". In "Majix", magic isn't something flashy that instantly grants your wishes (or backfires horribly). It's not a superpower that you're born with. Anyone can practice it - even boys, which pleased me immensely because I was worried about the cover quote excluding males from covens (the character was writing from a Dianic perspective, before changing to a more eclectic tradition). The rituals are meaningful, well-written, practical, and realistic. Serious time is given to religious-discrimination, how to avoid it, and what to do when faced with it. All of this is done within the confines of an interesting and well-written plot, and never comes off as preachy or out of character.
A great deal of emphasis is made on finding and making friends in unlikely places, being accepting of other people, traditions, and cultures, and on the importance of personal growth. Through all this, the narrative voice really sounds like a young adult and will make you laugh out loud at parts; I'm impressed because that's such a difficult thing for adult authors to pull off sometimes. I really enjoyed this book, which is saying something because I started off expecting (fearing?) another trite, warmed-over, "magic" novel; instead I found a novel that was well-written, deeply insightful, and astonishingly respectful of the beliefs of many practitioners of the Craft.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.
~ Ana Mardoll
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