Mark of the Wicked
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 10th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
First and foremost, do NOT go into this book thinking that you are going to be rooting for the main character of this story. Matilda is vengeful and brat that happens to have magical powers, and she needs a lesson in curving her reckless behaviour BADLY.
Like all witches, magic comes with rules otherwise you pay the price (no personal gain, right?). Well, Matilda doesn’t give a damn about the rules. Matilda is determined to get revenge on all of those who have wronged her because she found a work around when it comes to that whole magic for personal gain thing…until it stops working. When Matilda and her new friend Oliver start to get in over their heads, Matilda must face the music so to speak before her magic racks up a body count.
I’m always impressed when authors can write characters that get under my skin to the point that I want to come through the pages and throw the book at them in order for them to see the error of their ways. That’s exactly what happens here with Matilda. That being said, I am a sucker for morally grey characters, so I felt drawn to Matilda’s character and thoroughly enjoyed her arc throughout the book. While I don’t agree with all of the decisions that she made, I think it made her a much more relatable character especially as a teenager.
I really enjoyed the examination of witchcraft in this story. These witches felt more normalized versus the pomp and circumstance that you see surrounding a lot of stories where witches are involved. The author does a fantastic job of really digging into the details to make this an immersive and atmospheric read. If you’re a mood or seasonal reader, I highly recommend this one for spooky season since these events transpire around that time.
Overall, this was a really fantastic horror/mystery debut from Bowers with no shortage of magic and spookiness!
Thank you to Fierce Reads for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
Georgia Bowers lives in Bedford, a small market town in England. When it was time to decide what to do with her life, she was obsessed with two things: books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seemed sensible to follow in the brogued footsteps of Rupert Giles, so she became a librarian, though sadly not the demon fighting kind. But there’s still time.
Ever since her mum told her that witches used to meet in the woods near their village, she’s been obsessed with witchcraft and the paranormal. When she was a teenager, a weekly habit of Point Horrors satisfied her thirst for chilling tales before she moved on to reading Stephen King. These days she likes to give her nerves a break every now and then with a good YA romance.
After completing a course in writing YA fiction she was a winner in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Undiscovered Voices. Since then she has dabbled with stories of chosen ones and ghostly best friends until she conjured up the magical ingredients for her debut novel, Mark Of The Wicked.