Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan
Published by Scholastic Inc. on July 9, 2019
Series: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1
Genres: Fantasy, Halloween, Holiday, Horror, Media Tie-In, Witches, Young Adult
Length: 288 pages Source: BookCon 2019
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It's the summer before her sixteenth birthday, and Sabrina Spellman knows her world is about to change. She's always studied magic and spells with her aunts, Hilda and Zelda. But she's also lived a normal mortal life -- attending Baxter High, hanging out with her friends Susie and Roz, and going to the movies with her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle.
Now time is running out on her every day, normal world, and leaving behind Roz and Susie and Harvey is a lot harder than she thought it would be. Especially because Sabrina isn't sure how Harvey feels about her. Her cousin Ambrose suggests performing a spell to discover Harvey's true feelings. But when a mysterious wood spirit interferes, the spell backfires... in a big way.
Sabrina has always been attracted to the power of being a witch. But now she can't help wondering if that power is leading her down the wrong path. Will she choose to forsake the path of light and follow the path of night?
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookCon 2019 and Scholastic Inc. in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Nope, nope, nope.
Let’s be honest here, media tie-ins are always a risk. First of all, most the time they make the assumption that you’re already a big fan and that’s why you’re reading the book. I personally believe they’d be a more effective resource if the two could stand alone, and make you want to seek out the other. Season of the Witch made me want to avoid The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
I think it’s in part because of the complications of this story. Season of the Witch is being marketed as YA because Sabrina is fifteen and the subject matter is too mature for middle grade, but the characters are too immature for adult. In this, it’s fair to say that Sabrina is probably a true YA heroine because she acts like a kid. Unfortunately, YA as a genre is saturated with flowery writing and mature characters probably better suited for the New Adult genre which still (somehow) does not exist. Therefore, reading Season of the Witch left a weird taste, as though it were oversimplified and not quite right.
The simplicity of the writing wasn’t all that bothered me. The book is written in pieces. Every other chapter is Sabrina’s, written in first-person past-tense on white pages with black text. The chapters in between are each given to an individual character, written in third-person past-tense on black pages with white text. The change in voice and formatting threw me every single chapter, bouncing out just enough that I couldn’t get immersed in the book. Additionally, most the even chapters added nothing. Instead, the book became a novella of one of Sabrina’s adventures and nearly glimpse of her love story, peppered with short stories about her co-stars. It never felt cohesive.
As for the characters themselves, they’re super flat. Having not watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix, I’m not sure if the author was relying on readers to be fans and know characters inside out? I felt like even with the even chapters, there were too many characters without any depth. I didn’t feel emotionally attached to anyone, and there was a lot of telling and not a lot of showing and that style of writing just… bores me.
This book is an easy read – I read most of it in one sitting. I do think it’s going to be a weird one to market, because I’m not sure how many YA readers are going to be content with the simplicity of the writing, and I certainly hope middle grade readers are not picking this one up. Unfortunately, I really don’t feel like Season of the Witch will translate over to an adult audience.
Fans of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will either love or hate this one, but I don’t think there will be much in between. For those who are not watching the show, I don’t think I’d recommend this book, even though it’s a prequel. There aren’t spoilers, and I don’t think anyone would be confused… I just think you need to be a fan to enjoy it.
Season of the Witch will be donated.
Being perfectly honest, I was a little hesitant about this book when I received it. If it wasn’t so short, and if it wasn’t an ARC, I probably would have DNF’d it. It’s just so solidly not for me. You’d think it would be, with the whole aspect of witches and magical realism and the sort, but it never managed to reply grab my attention. I know for a fact I won’t be reading this one again, so it doesn’t get to stay on my shelf.
Do you watch The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? I remember a lot of people talking about it when it was first announced, but I only know one person who was watching it, so I haven’t heard much about the actual show. Is it good? What would you compare it to? Let me know in the comments!