A young witch tries to unravel the mystery of who is framing her for dark magic in Georgia Bowers' creepy YA debut fantasy, Mark of the Wicked.
Magic always leaves its mark.
All her life, Matilda has been told one thing about her magic: You use only when necessary. But Matilda isn't interested in being a good witch. She wants revenge and popularity, and to live her life free of consequences, free of the scars that dark magic leaves on her face as a reminder of her misdeeds.
When a spell goes awry and the new boy at school catches her in the act, Matilda thinks her secret might be out. But far from being afraid, Oliver already knows about her magic - and he wants to learn more. As Oliver and Matilda grow closer, bizarre things begin to happen: Animals show up with their throats slashed and odd markings carved into their bodies, a young girl dies mysteriously, and everyone blames Matilda. But she isn’t responsible — at least, not that she can remember. As her magic begins to spin out of control, Matilda must decide for herself what makes a good witch, and discover the truth...before anyone else turns up dead.
"[A] breathlessly told, consuming portrait of a witch’s relationship with loneliness and power... protagonists are elaborately drawn, and the novel’s eerie atmosphere lingers." —Publishers Weekly
Though the human names etched into Matilda Hollowell's face burn night and day to remind her of the cruel spells she has inflicted, she feels no compunction about using her magic against her Gravewick Academy classmates. A lineage witch with the rare ability to conceal such scars, Matilda shuns her mother's coven and ignores her largely nonverbal grandmother's cryptic warnings. But as Halloween approaches and animals in town wind up dead with Matilda's name scrawled over them, she battles blackouts and hallucinations (and police attention) while seeking the comfort of crush Oliver, a witch in training. And once she turns 17 and receives her family's grimoire, Matilda learns information about her bloodline's lore including more about the legend of Ivy, Matilda's ancestor who was cast down a well and questions whom she can trust and whether she can change her ways. In this breathlessly told, consuming portrait of a witch's relationship with loneliness and power, debut author Bowers crafts an intricate backstory that highlights detailed witchcraft rituals and themes of violence against women. Animal cruelty and gore are prominent, and plot points are easily guessed, but the default-white protagonists are elaborately drawn, and the novel's eerie atmosphere lingers. Ages 13 up.