Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, Maybe There Are Witches by Jude Atwood!

It's happy birthday time again! Today's read has been on my radar for awhile, and I had to patiently sit back and wait and wait and wait... So now, I can finally take a peek at this one. 

The title won me over right away, and the blurb sealed the deal. It promises to be a great mystery for the middle grade readers...and I really hope it is because I've set my expectations high for this one. So, let's see if I was let down or not.

After note: This one is going on my possible favorites list for 2023.

by Jude Atwood
Fitzroy Books
Middle Grade Paranormal
216 pages
ages 8 to 12

"I can’t think of a better fate for young readers." -Steven T. Seagle, co-creator of Ben 10Big Hero 6, and Camp Midnight

After moving to the tiny village of Biskopskulla, middle school student Clara Hutchins discovers that her family has a history in the region: one hundred forty years ago, one of her ancestors was hanged as a witch from the white oak tree on the edge of town. When Clara finds a mildewed diary in the basement, she’ s even able to read the rambling thoughts of her long-dead relative.

But when the book’ s predictions about Clara’ s own life start coming true, she wonders if those 19th-century villagers had a point: maybe her great-great-great grandmother really did have unearthly abilities. Now, a break-in at the tomb of the town’ s founder means a great evil has returned to Biskopskulla. Clara and her newest friends— two of the weirdest boys in school— must join forces to decipher the messages of a murdered witch and stop an unnatural catastrophe. But as they quest through historic cemeteries, backcountry libraries, and high-octane scholastic bowl tournaments, something sinister is lurking, watching, and waiting…



Murdered witches, predictions coming true, and a sinister presence in the shadows...together these create the perfect door to an excitingly spooky adventure.

Clara's not so sure about the move from California to small town Illinois, but outside of the spooky doll collection her grandmother left behind, it seems okay. She quickly finds friends at the new school and especially catches attention when they learn she's the great-great-great grandchild of a woman hung for witchcraft. What's weirder still is the old diary Clara discovers in their basement from her past relative...and the words not only were written just for her, but they predict the most impossible details. Not all of these are good. Teaming up with her new friends, Clara needs to figure out what is truly going on before a horrible disaster hits.

This is a read with just the right amount of details, action, spook and heart to draw in and hold until the very last page. The small town and the inherited bed and breakfast come to life as Clara hunts through the historical past to discover not only hints of magic and the paranormal. She finds herself in an odd mystery, which bridges time by using historic clues to stop a sinister plot in the present. The author has carefully laid out the steps to form a well-woven adventure, making it hard to guess what is coming next, while building the tension little by little. All the while, Clara's natural personality draws the reader in. And when the ending hits...well, I really didn't see it coming.

While friendship, family, and settling into new situations adds meaningful foundation, it's the delicious layers of tension and chills, which really draw in. It's not overly scary but tip-toes right on the border of mystery and creepy. And that, in all the right ways.

And here he is...

Jude Atwood grew up in small-town Illinois. After graduating from Bradley University and Chapman University, he became a community college professor in Orange County, California, where it hasn't snowed in over seventy years. Along with his boyfriend, he takes care of a dog named Kokoro and has occasional adventures. His writing has appeared in Literally Stories and Unfortunately, Literary Magazine. JudeAtwood.tv 

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