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Bad Witch Burning

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For fans of Lovecraft Country and Candyman comes a witchy story full of Black girl magic as one girl's dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her an even darker future.

Katrell can talk to the dead. And she wishes it made more money. She's been able to support her unemployed mother--and Mom's deadbeat-boyfriend-of-the-week--so far, but it isn't enough. Money's still tight, and to complicate things, Katrell has started to draw attention. Not from this world--from beyond. And it comes with a warning: STOP or there will be consequences.

Katrell is willing to call the ghosts on their bluff; she has no choice. What do ghosts know of having sleep for dinner? But when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.

Only magic isn't free, and dark forces are coming to collect. Now Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it's too late.

341 pages, Hardcover

First published August 24, 2021

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Jessica Lewis

3 books191 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 376 reviews
Profile Image for Victoria Schwab.
Author 36 books102k followers
February 7, 2021
Practical Magic + Black Girl Magic. This was a taut, powerful novel. I couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,329 reviews355 followers
July 27, 2021
Five snot-filled, heaving, gasping, weeping tears from my own fucking eyes stars.

There is just so much emotion in this book, and it's so fucking good and sad and how many words can I use to describe this indescribable book? I knew I was going to be in for a ride when reading the author's note, but the way Lewis works words and twists emotions is just breathtakingly awe-inspiring.

This is a fucking must-read, but please pay attention to those trigger warnings.

Trigger Warning: violent death of an animal, domestic violence, emotional abuse, physical abuse

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,455 reviews2,319 followers
July 20, 2021
Bad Witch Burning
by Jessica Lewis

This was a sad, depressing, exciting, hopeful, scary, and unique read! It was all those things and wonderful at the same time! It's about a gal that is abused and neglected by her mother and whoever her mother had as a boyfriend at the time. The 16 year old was always making excuses for her mom and blaming herself or the men.

She also has a gift that her mom exploits. She can bring back a ghost of someone's family, friend, or lover and she charges a small price. It physically hurts her so she can't hold the connection long. While doing one of these routine summoning, the ghost speaks to her! This has never happened. The spirit warns her never to call forth anyone again. They will come for her. Since the girl is the only one supporting the home of her, the mom, and the low life guy, she feels she has to work.

Things come to a head when the abusive guy beats her and things get out of hand. Later she is in so much grief, she used her power again but it didn't bring back just a spirit but the whole body! Now she thinks it's a good idea to make money from resurrections! Things were bad before but now it gets a lot worse!

It's a story about how desperate people try to get out of a bad situation only to find themselves in a worse one. Fortunately, this gal has a great friend, loyal dog, great counselor at school, and good neighbor. But she remains too loyal to her mom because she believes she has to be and won't seek help.

I think a lot of us can relate to feeling left out, no where to turn, too loyal to those unworthy. We might find an unhealthy way to escape if given an option.

I enjoyed the fantasy aspect of it and it had plenty of suspense. I did get frustrated with the gal for always backing her worthless mom! But she was just 16! It's hard enough at that age and she's poor, abused, and scared to lose her only family.

I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this intriguing book!
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
457 reviews627 followers
August 25, 2021
This book wasn't at all what I expected when I picked it up. There was a lot of physical and emotional as well as flat out violence and harmful thoughts. And though some parts were tough too read I was very engaged once this story started to take off.

Katrell is a teen living in the hood and working 30 hours a week to provide for her household. Her mother is currently unemployed and heavily leaning on her to be the provider. On top of that her mother has Gerald, one of many in a string of horrible boyfriends in the picture. She has her sole friend Will who is there for her when life gets to be too much to bear. Will is a former foster child who has been through many of the same things. Katrell has a special gift. She's not sure where it originated from but she has the ability to talk to ghosts. She writes these letters that let people communicate for their dead loved ones and that's how she makes extra money.

Katrell is left feeling broken after a blowout fight with Gerald results in the death of her beloved dog, Conrad. And despite a previous warning not write anymore letters she writes an emotional letter to her dog. She is shocked when Conrad ends up returning with no sign of being killed. Though he doesn't have a heartbeat and he's not his usual self. This leads Katrell to test out this newfound power which later leads her to charging people to resurrect their loved ones. It doesn't take long for thing to get back quick with these remnants and soon Katrell finds her life spiraling out of control.

At first when Katrell was talking about struggling to make ends meet and going whole days without eating I was afraid this would be another YA where a poor character gets a come up and we ignore and wash over their neglectful parents abuse when they find a way out of their misery. I was wondering why Katrell and her mother aren't on welfare and receiving food stamps or receiving any other forms of government assistance. And I was so glad that Katrell was able to acknowledge that her mother didn't give a damn about her. And that this story explored Katrell's need to get out of her abusive situation while also trying to protect her mother because she believes she has to love her and she's afraid of being put into the foster care system. I also liked that she was able to see positive examples of adults who care in both her school guidance counselor, Mike and Will's adopted mother.

This book was really well done and I could really hear that Jessica Lewis had personal experience with these topics which I think made a world of difference. We always hear the writing advice to write what you know. But sometimes when I read books that tackle social issues I feel the writer is a little out of her element. This story really resonated with me and it's one that I'm proud to recommend.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
625 reviews1,686 followers
November 16, 2021
Wow, Bad Witch Burning is one heck of an emotional roller-coaster and the kind of book that just does not let you go. Loved this take on Black witches, where the main character sells her ability to resurrect the dead to make money to escape poverty.

- Follows Katrell, a Black witch who has the ability to summon spirits of the dead through writing letters. When she discovers that she has a new ability of resurrecting the dead, she starts selling her services to hopefully escape poverty - but her powers come with dark consequences.
- This book is dark and weighs heavy at times, but it is honestly phenomenal. I've never read a book quite like this - a YA book that tackles headfirst the complexities of housing and food insecurity and living in an unsafe household, and explores just how all-encompassing it is.
- Katrell is a fantastic character - nuanced and so flawed. Yet, despite her imperfections, readers will strongly connect with her, even when she makes decisions that aren't 'right'. You'll root for her from start to finish, even when she strays from the right path.
- A heads-up: this story has magic but it isn't a huge focus of the book. Rather, the magic is important to the story, but it isn't a 'magic/fantastical' sort of book. This story is very much rooted in real life problems and its contemporary setting.
- I loved how nuanced the relationships were. Loved Katrell's unconditionally supportive best friend, Will, and also appreciated the portrayal of Katrell's mother, who is financially and emotionally abusive. How Katrell navigates these relationships feel so... I don't know, so real. Your heart will break.

Content warnings: death of an animal, abuse (emotional, physical, financial), death themes, parental neglect, gun violence
Profile Image for Roomies' Digest.
234 reviews685 followers
June 1, 2022
It's a 2.5 ⭐️for me!

The concept of this book is what initially drew me in, and I think it started out really great at first! I loved the premise and loved how Katrell is such a bad a** character, but I do think this book fell a little short of my expectations.

For me, I was expecting more from the fantasy side of it. It was the fact that Katrell is a medium who regularly communicates with ghosts, and then soon finds out she can actually bring people back from the dead that I figured this book would have a fun, magical, witchy vibe. Bringing people back from the dead IS HUGE as far as magic goes! Yet throughout this book, that detail seemed to be on the back-burner to all the other problems Katrell faces on a daily basis. And then when the magic was addressed, I feel like no one was actually asking the right questions to solve the issues??

The tone of this book also felt more like a YA contemporary than a magical realism/ urban fantasy, and I just wish it dealt more with Katrell's story as it related to her abilities... otherwise we just got a YA contemporary.

I found it fast- paced in the beginning, slowing down at around 30%. After that point, I kept asking myself where it this plot going? What is the point? All in all I can appreciate Katrell's overall story and her character arc (it is what it is), but it's not my favorite.

Profile Image for Emily.
1,264 reviews331 followers
August 21, 2021
Bad Witch Burning fucked me up. I don't even know what to say about it. For whatever reason, I thought this was going to be a fun fantasy story, but it's kind of the opposite (and ended up being one of my favorite books this year).

Bad Witch Burning is grim, disturbing, and haunting. I would personally classify it as horror. Jessica Lewis is a great writer, and this is an impressive debut. I stayed up late reading it, and was a complete mess at the end. I think this might be the book that made me cry the most this year so far. This is a really painful read, so please check out the content notes below if you need to. I'll definitely be checking out whatever Jessica Lewis does next!

Content notes - domestic abuse, graphic murder of a pet (I didn't read this part, but other reviews have said graphic, so I included it), poverty, parental neglect, suicidal ideation
Profile Image for J. Elle.
Author 7 books760 followers
October 15, 2020
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The main characters voice pulled me right in and immediately captivated me. I don’t want to give a lot away but this is a book you devour in one sitting. The author has painted a vivid character with stakes you can really relate to. And the way she weaves in such suspense, it’s impossible to put down. All those things considered and the nuanced commentary in this masterpiece, I am absolutely sure this piece is going to make so many kids feel seen.

A forever STAN,

Profile Image for Fanna.
979 reviews493 followers
Want to read
June 23, 2020
June 23, 2020: I mean, how do you not expect me to be excited for a teen witch raising the dead for some cash?
Profile Image for Tijana.
305 reviews148 followers
April 25, 2022
"She doesn’t care about me and she never has.
When I was little, I was cute enough to inspire churches and nonprofits to give us food, money, housing. When I was in middle school, I served as a target so her boyfriends wouldn’t hit her. Now that I’m in high school, I can work and support her. And I did support her. I sacrificed everything for her. I worked long hours and failed all my classes and smiled at her with blood in my teeth. I turned into a monster for her. And it wasn’t enough."

I found out about this story long before it was published, after stumbling upon author's query letter on Query Shark's site. I was drawn to it immediately, counting down months until I can finally read it. Then, when it finally got published, I was hesitant to pick it up, scared it won't live up to my expectations.
Now I know there was nothing to be afraid of. It was all I wanted and more.

My heart breaks for all the little Katrells out there and I hope they find happiness they deserve.
Profile Image for Whitney.
514 reviews69 followers
October 27, 2021
CW: poverty, abuse, trauma, PTSD, mentions of the foster care system, parental neglect and abandonment, drug use, animal death (major catalyst for the overall plot), violence, death and murder, gun violence, toxic relationships, gaslighting

I'll admit that this was a hard book to read. When I initially picked this up I expected a wholly supernatural read filled with zombies, saving the world and some fun. The zombies were absolutely delivered, but they were served with a side of family trauma, abuse, and an introspective look at what happens when you're forced to confront the ugly parts of yourself and the toxic relationships around you.

Do not get me wrong, the story was amazing. It pulled several emotions out of me (most of the time anger) and I think that often times that's what a good book does. It elicits and taps into your strong emotions so that you can feel the story more deeply. And while this may not have been the fun action packed story I initially set out to read, it was definitely a moving one and one that I won't forget any time soon.

Katrell is literally forced to make hard decisions every day. She has a best friend who is dealing with her own trauma inflicted on her by previous foster parents, a mother who refuses to work and defends her horrible boyfriend til the end, and a man living her in her house that is not only worthless, but emotionally, verbally and physically abusive towards her. So of course, with everything falling on her to provide for herself and her mother (and that boyfriend) she turns to the only thing she can: her gift to communicate with the dead. And while that helps her make ends meat for awhile, she finds herself overwhelmed and having to tap into a new and dangerous power.

Katrell is a character you're constantly rooting for, but also one you want to beat over the head because SHE JUST DOESN'T LISTEN AND IS SO STUBBORN!! She's so determined to do things her way and believe that she can come through on the other side even when all the evidence points to the contrary. And while it was absolutely frustrating, it's incredibly realistic, especially the way she defends her mother and is in denial about just how toxic the woman is.

I think one of the biggest takeaways is that this is a heavy heavy book so be prepared going in, but if you're prepared for that then I think you'll enjoy it.
Profile Image for Alaina.
5,936 reviews216 followers
March 26, 2021
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

First off, I hated Katrell's mom and her mom's dumb ass boyfriend in Bad Witch Burning. They were both manipulative people and I just despised them so much. They never deserved her one bit. Especially when they couldn't even take care of themselves, keep a job, or pay to have a roof over their heads.

Other than that, I actually enjoyed this book. Katrell and Will's friendship was one for the books. I really enjoyed them being together and trying to bring some joy back to people's lives. Especially after they lost a loved one. Mostly because Katrell has a pretty unique power that goes through an upgrade with a lot of consequences to it.

In the end, I wasn't that upset with what certain characters went through but I didn't like the deep dark road that Katrell was tumbling down. I'm glad that she got help towards the end and got her one piece of happiness. She definitely deserved more people in her corner - even if it was a little late to do so.
3 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2020
I'll put it this way: when I read Bad Witch Burning, I missed a few meetings at work because I HAD TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Jessica Lewis crafted a tense-filled story from start to finish, and with every chapter the suspense goes up and up. Katrell is a heroine you can't help but root for, flaws and all. She's been through a lot, where even her dark magic abilities can't fix. So seeing her earn money with her powers is plausible and relatable. Black Witch Burning is filled with Black girl magic, tough characters facing tougher decisions, and one dog you'll love...and fear. Highly recommended!
August 29, 2021
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to TBR & Beyond Tours, Netgalley, and Delacorte for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.

If I was able to talk to the dead, or even anything remotely supernatural that was rare, I would probably do the same thing that Katrell did: find a way to make money off of it. Nothing wrong with a side hustle, okay? Isn’t that what everyone keeps talking about these days? Can’t even have a fun hobby without people telling you to make that a side hustle, so here you go.

I also understand why she went to such lengths, and why when she finds out that she’s somehow able to bring the dead back to life and make even more money off of it, she doesn’t heed the previous warning she got about burning everything down. People will do whatever they can to survive, especially when they are one of the main sources of income for their family. I understand that, and I don’t even blame Katrell for pushing the boundaries as far as she can with her powers. It just sucks that that warning may actually turn out to be valid, and things may turn for the worse if she keeps it up.

It doesn’t help that I recently finished another book with a daughter dealing with abuse from her mother’s numerous boyfriends – although in The Girls I’ve Been, the boyfriends were marks until the final one… but that’s another story of course – but reading about these kinds of relationships has been super hard for me. Katrell has been dealing with a string of her mother’s boyfriends abusing her until they’ve had their fill. On to the next, the abuse doesn’t seem to end. It also doesn’t help that Katrell’s mother doesn’t seem to actually care since this constant stream of boyfriends hasn’t actually improved in personality. I mean, the main reason why Katrell resorted to using her powers to make money is because that’s what her mother makes her do in order to support both of them. So not only is Katrell having to deal with the repercussions of her powers in the supernatural world, but dealing the natural world of a negligent mother and men that shouldn’t have ever been in that household in the first place.

Is it almost some sort of reprieve for her to deal with her clients and the dead? You tell me.

I’ve seen Goodreads also label this story as a horror novel, and I totally agree with that one. Not just because of what happens when you use magic to bring the dead back to life – the Monkey’s Paw, anyone? – but just Katrell’s home life. It is horrible, and something that nobody should have to deal with, but is more common than it should be. This will be something to keep in mind as you read it, and since all magic comes at a price, don’t trust all that you see. Let’s just leave it as that. It’s still giving me chills!
Profile Image for julia ☆ [owls reads].
1,496 reviews294 followers
October 9, 2021
5 stars!


"If you mess with the Witch, you get hurt."

Yes, I have read this in one sitting! Bad Witch Burning captured my attention right from the very first scene. I loved how Lewis set up Katrell and Will's characters and what Katrell could do in just that opening chapter. The writing was so easy to get lost into and Katrell's perspective was engaging and filled with personality.

I loooooooved to bits that this story didn't focus on a romantic relationship and, instead, was all about friendship. Katrell and Will's bond was deep and such a joy to read about even when they were going through their toughest moments. It was a lovely portrayal of love and support without them being blinded to each other's faults. Being someone's friend means calling them out when they're being dummies and Lewis wrote that perfectly.

The plot was extremely well developed. It hit all the right points at a steady pace and kept me guessing as I read. The way Lewis slowly escalated what was happening and built tension throughout the book was wonderful. The stakes got higher and higher until I had no idea how things were going to turn out.

Some parts were a bit difficult to read, including the final few chapters, since they dealt with some pretty heavy content warnings--they are listed below. Katrell's life was not an easy one by any means and it hurt to read about some of the things she went through. The hopeful tone of the ending did help with that and I thought it fit very well with Katrell's journey through the novel. A fantastic read!


Series: Standalone.
POV: Told from Katrell's POV.
Content Warnings:
Cliffhanger: No.
August 24, 2021
4,5 stars
Thank you to Delacorte Press, Random House Children's and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.

Trigger/Content Warnings: Death of a Dog | Parental Neglect | Domestic Abuse | Physical Abuse | Emotional Abuse | Violence to a minor | Gun Violence

If you've taken a look at the trigger warnings for this book you will know right away this is a book that broke my heart. And it will break your heart too because everything about this book is so real. The author confirms she's dealt with similar situations in her own life in the past in the foreword. And you can tell.

Katrell can talk to the death with the help of letters. She doesn't mind and it earns her an extra penny to help pay with the rent. Which she mostly pays on her own. Her home situation is terrible. Her mom has no job and keeps with a dead beat guy who beats Katrell. They expect her to work and make money so they have a roof over their heads and can do 'fun' things. Katrells only break comes from her friend Will who lives with foster parents who adopted her. She is safe there, but only Will knowns the truth about her home situation.

After a horrible incident Katrell accidentally raises someone from the dead. And she realizes she can earn a lot more money to keep a house and maybe even get out of poverty. You can imagine how well that went.

So much about this book broke my heart. Of course we have the big themes but more than that it was the broken hearted girl in Katrell that she didn't want to show. The girl that couldn't believe Wills mom would hang up one of her pieces of poetry. The girl that didn't think she was worth of any kind of love. What her mom did to her was unforgiveable. But Katrell went back because that is the loyalty of a child to their parents. She didn't want to get her mom into trouble so she never said anything to the social worker at her school. Everything about this book was real and it hurt.

The only thing I have is that I would have liked a bit of world buiding on the magic. I realize this is obviously not the focal point of this book but if you are going to use it try and put in a little more. It was just a little too thin.

Having said that this book is heart breaking and so well written. One that you won't forget after reading.
Profile Image for Kat.
783 reviews27 followers
July 6, 2021
Wow! I finished this book in a pond of my own tears. It was so gut wrenching, thrilling, and tugging on all of my heart strings. The magic in an ugly world angle is a love letter to every abused teenager out there. You are seen. This is a phenomenal debut!
Profile Image for Toya (the reading chemist).
1,072 reviews78 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
August 29, 2021
DNF at 20%.

Unfortunately, I am going to have to just stop at this point. This book ended up being so much darker than I was anticipated. Between Katrell's dog being shot at gun point, the physical and emotional abuse that Katrell suffers, the gaslighting from Katrell's mom, and the food insecurity, I just can't keep going.

This is one of those stories where I really question who is the target audience here.

Is the point that you want to show privileged white kids what it's like for poor BIPOC? If that's the case, please unpack so much of what's happening so that these kids don't just sit here and think that Katrell is stupid for not leaving her abusive mother even though her mother allows her to be abused by her boyfriends.

Is the point that you want this to be a story for us? That works too but just know that this is incredibly triggering for those of us who have had rough childhoods that we'd like to forget.

I really want into this one thinking it was going to be about a badass Black witch, and instead, it was Black trauma. Pass.
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,197 reviews465 followers
October 3, 2021
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

Katrell has the ability to communicate with the dead by summoning them by letter. She charges a small price for others to utilize her ability and uses this money to help pay the bills to support her mother and her deadbeat boyfriend, Gerald. During a summoning, she receives a warning from the ghost that if she continues, bad things will happen. Her next summoning results in a resurrection and Katrell realizes she could make even more money if she were to continue resurrecting peoples loved ones. But things quickly take a turn for the worse, and Katrell needs to figure out how to fix what she started, before more people get hurt.

I didn't expect this book to be as hard-hitting as it was. I had expected a fun filled fantasy about a girl raising the dead for a little extra cash, but it was so much more than that. This doesn't feel like a debut at all! I was instantly sucked into this story and these characters. I found it hard to put the book down, because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Katrell's character broke my heart, and I wouldn't say she is necessarily a likeable character. But she has been through so much abuse in her life, its understandable why she would be hesitant around other people. I wanted so badly for her to get out of the situation that she was in. I hated Katrell's mother and Gerald, and it made me so angry every time she would stand up for her mother and her behaviour. I'm glad that she had positive adult figures, such as her guidance counsellor and Will's mother to look up to. I also really liked Katrell and Will's friendship, especially when Katrell had to realize how important and valuable it was.

I do think that the pacing is a bit off, and there is a lack of worldbuilding in regards to Katrell's ability, which is why I took a star off.

Overall, this is a really wonderful debut, that will pull on your heartstrings in unexpected ways.
Profile Image for Haadiya.
147 reviews74 followers
August 30, 2021
This was a sad, melancholy, exhilarating, hopeful, frightening, and one-of-a-kind book! It was all of those things, and it was also amazing! It’s about a young woman who is abused and neglected by her mother and her mother’s lover at the time. The 16-year-old was constantly blaming herself or the men for her mother’s misfortunes.

She also has a talent that her mother takes advantage of. She charges a little fee to bring back a ghost of someone’s family, friend, or lover. She can’t hold the connection for long since it hurts her physically. The spirit speaks to her when she is performing one of these normal summonings!

This has never occurred before. The spirit warns her not to summon anyone else in the future. They’re going to come after her. Because the girl is the only one who can support her, her mother, and the lowlife boyfriend, she feels compelled to work.

Things reach a breaking point when the violent man beats her and things spiral out of control. She utilized her power again later, but this time it didn’t just bring back a spirit, but the entire body! She now believes that profiting from resurrections is a fantastic idea! Things were bad before, but they’re about to get a whole lot worse!

It’s a tale of desperate people who strive to get out of a bad position only to end themselves in an even worse one. Fortunately, she has a wonderful companion, a faithful dog, a wonderful school counselor, and a wonderful neighbor. She is, however, very loyal to her mother because she believes she is obligated to be, and she refuses to seek help.

I believe many of us can identify to feel left out, having nowhere to turn, and being overly devoted to persons who are worthless. If given the chance, we might find an unhealthy way to go away.

It had lots of suspense and I enjoyed the fantasy component of it. I was getting irritated with the girl since she was continually defending her useless mother! But she was just 16 years old! It’s difficult enough at that age, especially when she’s poor, beaten, and afraid of losing her own family.
Profile Image for USOM.
2,277 reviews190 followers
August 24, 2021
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: animal death, child abuse, domestic abuse, parental neglect, gun violence

Bad Witch Burning put my heart through the emotional wringer. From Lewis exploring toxic family members to the fear and doubts of letting people in? Everything is emotionally intense and gripping. Katrell's story of how she is put into the parental role - when no child should have to be - and the desperation of poverty. We are able to see Katrell on the page in all her mistakes, loves, and doubts. To witness her emotional journey and character arc.

There are moments that break your heart from the small all the way to the large. From the internal narration in our own heads, to the fights with our best friends, to the toxic relationship with her mother. Bad Witch Burning is a book that has us fall so deeply in love with the characters, all their nuances and intricacies, and then watch the action take off. I struggle to figure out whether I love the story line - the supernatural - or the characters more. But they work so seamlessly together to create a narrative you can't put down.
Profile Image for Melanie.
940 reviews18 followers
July 21, 2021
Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Children's for an arc of this book.

Content Warnings at end of review.

Katrell has always been able to see ghosts. But after a bad run-in with her mom's abusive boyfriend, Trell realizes her powers have changed. Now she has the ability to raise people from the dead, and make some cash while she's at it.

This book was so interesting. I really empathized with Katrell and all so was going through. Will is also such an amazing friend and my favorite character! I liked the journey that Trell went through and what she had to do to come to terms with things. I thought there was great character development! The pacing was a little slow in some places, and Trell definitely didn't make the best decisions, but I enjoyed this book overall!

Content Warnings
Graphic: Animal death, Child abuse, Domestic abuse, Emotional abuse, Medical content, Mental illness, Physical abuse, and Abandonment
Profile Image for kate.
1,078 reviews915 followers
September 9, 2021
This was SO GREAT and delivered so much more than what I was expecting (and I was expecting a lot...)

Not only does it have vengeance filled practical magic vibes, it also brilliantly explores domestic abuse, poverty, trauma, parental neglect and the dangerous positions it can put a child in when they're monetarily relied upon and the mental and physical toll it takes.

Bad Witch Burning was gritty, addictive, emotional, intense and superbly written. If this is what Jessica Lewis can produce as a debut author, I cannot wait to see what incredible stories she has for us next.

TW: domestic abuse, child abuse, animal death, parental neglect
Profile Image for Meg Long.
Author 2 books221 followers
June 28, 2020
This book is so authentic and magical and gripping! I was lucky and got to read an early version. I read it over the course of a couple of days and couldn't put it down. I had to know what happened to Katrell and Conrad and Will.

If you're looking for something that's unapologetically #ownvoices and full of black girl magic, then you've definitely found it. This book's got a fresh take on zombies, a dog that I would die for, a powerful friendship, and a main character I never stopped rooting for.

The author really captures the tough life that kids face in our world and weaves it seamlessly with some witchy magic, hair-raising ghosts, and a girl who will do anything to escape her life. Katrell is faced with tougher and tougher choices as she begins to use her magic as a way to get out of her toxic home life. The odds are stacked against her but Katrell won't let anything stop her. Things get messy of course and more than just zombies end up complicating Katrell's life as the story races to the emotional climax. It's such a powerful story that is SO SO SO good! I can't wait for the book to come out so I can read it again!!!
Profile Image for Ta || bookishbluehead.
329 reviews20 followers
October 22, 2021
Another disappointing read for me, another book that caught my attention with its great premise just to turn out as a YA contemporary with magical elements.

Yes, there are ghosts, magical powers and even dead people who come back to life, but the main focus of the book was on Katrell, her abusive mother and her even more abusive stepfather. Katrell, a minor, has to work in a fast-food restaurant and earn money with her magic to make ends meet, while her mother and the boyfriend don’t work but instead use Katrells money to pay for their next party weekend.

That wasn’t what I signed up for and even though some elements were creepy and interesting, I couldn’t enjoy the book. It just wasn’t what I wanted to read and it wasn’t what I was promised.
Profile Image for Lin Smith.
10 reviews1 follower
June 23, 2020
I was lucky enough to read an early-ish version of this book, and I read it in one sitting. I couldn't put it down. The concept is so fresh and gripping, the characters so perfectly imperfect, and the tension will keep you up at night. With magic sprinkled throughout, this #ownvoices book touches some pretty serious themes, including Black poverty, and the lengths a teenage girl will go to fight her way out of it. It made me laugh and cry multiple times. Cannot recommend this book highly enough!
Profile Image for Maria.
6 reviews5 followers
August 25, 2021
This book is going to be epic!


It WAS epic. I'm an emotional shell right now, and I'm not sure what to do with myself. Jessica bled through those pages until I was left breathless. I hope to GOD every teen who needs it, reads it. It was a rollercoaster from start to finish, and will touch the lives of those who need it most. A stunning debut!
Profile Image for Jodie "Bookish"  Cook.
1,717 reviews2 followers
August 25, 2021
Book Review
Title: Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I want to start this review off by saying that I have many young adult books labelled as horror or thrillers that have completely missed the mark but Jessica Lewis hits a bullseye with Bad Witch Burning. I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I picked it up and it completely blew me away, it was dark, grim and extremely scary in certain parts and it definitely doesn’t lack violence as well as a lot of physical and emotional trauma so definitely read the trigger warnings before picking it up. We are introduced to Katrell who is coming from a really bad environment as she is abused and neglected by her mother and her numerous boyfriends as well as working over 30 hours a week to keep the household running as her mother puts a lot of pressure on her to do this. The only person who has any positive influence on Kat’s life is her best friend Will who is a former foster kid and has been through many of the same situations Katrell finds herself in but there is more to her than we expect.
We learn that Katrell has the ability to talk to ghosts and her mother exploits this to make money by making her write letters that let people communicate with their dead loved ones. From the very beginning I sympathised with Katrell who deserved much more than what she was given in life but after a fight with her mother’s current boyfriend, Gerald he murders her dog, Conrad, which leaves Kat feeling broken and I will warn you that this scene is very graphic. This is the point where things begin to get really interesting as Katrell uncovers something new about her gift that she had no idea about and as she begins testing it out we see her walk down a darker path. It doesn’t take long after this for things to get really bad and Katrell soon finds her life spiralling completely out of control with no way to stop it. Honestly at the beginning of this book where it focused on Katrell struggling to make ends meet and sometimes going days without being able to get I thought it was going to be another young adult novel where the main character overcomes their situation and the neglect and abuse they suffered is completely washed over. However, I really liked Katrell’s situation is one of the main reasons for her action throughout the novel and how Lewis explored Kat’s need to get out of her abusive situation while continuing to try and protect the mother who doesn’t really care about her. I also really enjoyed the fact that Lewis acknowledge that Katrell can see positive examples of adults like her guidance counsellor, Mike and Will’s adoptive mother and that all the adults are lumped together.
At its core Bad Witch Burning is a story about how desperate people try to get out of a bad situation only to find themselves in an even worse situation with no idea how they got there. However, Katrell remains completely true to who she is making her one of the most interesting protagonist I have followed in years especially in young adult literature. I can honestly say I related to Katrell’s feelings of feeling left out with nowhere to turn and how many people including myself find an unhealthy way of coping when left to their own devices. Overall, Bad Witch Burning was really well done and was an accurate portrayal of parental neglect and abusive without washing over or immediately correcting everything that was wrong with the situation. The way the book is written also leads me to believe that Lewis has had some personal experience with these topics which makes a huge difference to how it came across to me as a reader. This book was sad, depressing, exciting and much more and it is honestly such a unique read that I would highly recommend to people looking for something that completely breaks away from the typical tropes found in young adult horror books.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Heather-Lin.
982 reviews38 followers
Shelved as 'abandoned'
April 10, 2022

I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE. This girl is in such an impossible situation, working while still in highschool to help pay bills, standing up to her Mom's violent boyfriend, and basically never asking for help - It is making me MISERABLE.

Yes, I know this kind of crap happens. I lived through a version of this myself BUT there's something a little off about it and I can't put my finger on it... Perhaps because it's too perfectly orchestrated to torture our heroine into doing "the plot." That's it! It's too contrived. Which also leads straight into that tired YA trope of a young girl essentially living as an orphan.

What a shame because I loved the girls themselves, that they were such great friends, and that they were believably black.

I'm not going to recommend against this, YMMV.
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