Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan – Book Review

I’ll say it again: I’m a big fan of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (despite the train wreck of a third season), so I was thrilled to discover there were books. They were inspired by the Netflix series, and I can only hope there will be more!

This book is a prequel to the first season, taking place in the late summer/early autumn. Harvey, Sabrina’s boyfriend, is acting strange and giving her the impression that he might have a roving eye. So, being a half-witch, Sabrina confides in her cousin, Ambrose, for a little spell. Magic always makes things better. Right?

Well, Sabrina soon realizes that nothing is ever easy, nor are things as they seem…

The plot may sound basic and not as compelling as the premise of the first season, but it explores the characters in ways that visuals can’t. I actually like Harvey now, at least book-Harvey. He didn’t once make me say, “Ugh, Sabrina, he is less desirable than the first slice of bread! What do you see in him?”

I mean, Harvey is no Nick Scratch (not that I was crazy about him, either), but he didn’t need to be some charming devil to hold my interest. The book gives him a depth that the show failed to, quite miserably.

On paper, Harvey is a sensitive, romantic soul and a lover of beauty without being too cheesy (at least when he’s not under the magical influence). His alcoholic dad wishes he would “man up,” but his brother, Tommy, is protective and only wants him to be happy.

Besides her boyfriend problem, Sabrina also seeks acceptance and respect from witches and mortals alike. Luckily, she finds someone who can help, but they aren’t Ambrose.

Sabrina’s voice was definitely Sabrina. Nobody seemed out-of-character to me and the writing style was lovely. I might be biased, but I think Ambrose was the star of this book. I’m going to gush a bit about Ambrose.

God—I mean, Satan—I love Ambrose. I didn’t think I could love him any more than I already do, but this book captured his wicked wit perfectly and expanded his character. He’s the cousin I wish I had, always up to magical mischief.

We are so alike.

While the story mainly follows Sabrina, a handful of side characters—family, friends, and foes—each have a chapter that is titled What Happens in the Dark. It’s pretty much what the title suggests: a look into their unconscious thoughts. This might sound like filler, and it can be, but it also builds up to the next scene.

As much as I love Ambrose, the woods’ perspective was my favorite. They were everything that made me think of traditional witchcraft: beautiful and intimate, but also creeping with danger and death.

The downside is that these special chapters are light words printed on dark, but grungy pages, so they’ll probably have you squinting at times.

The villain is somewhat predictable, but Sabrina doesn’t fail to be clever and there’s a little twist. I’m not going to lie, though: the pace could’ve been quicker, the filler could’ve been less, and the story itself could’ve been just a little darker and more exciting. Roz and Susie also weren’t given enough attention. Despite their chapters, they played awfully minor roles and were barely present.

But it was worth reading. The biggest highlights for me were Harvey 2.0, Tommy’s heartfelt chapter, and Ambrose’s relationship with Sabrina. I can’t say this book is good enough to be at the top of your TBR list, but I think it deserves a spot if you like witches and the show.

Rating

3 and a half full moons out of 5

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