Okay, we’re delving into a seriously deep well here. Witches span history and cultures, and heaven forbid, we sink into the black hole of witchcraft in fiction.
They embody scar-faced saviors, spiteful young women, idealized youth, and green-skinned villains.
As Lily’s Ethology book explains: Witches derive their power from their passion. Although encouraged to indulge themselves magically, pride can hinder their performance, so witches often remind their young to humble themselves.
With that in mind, let me introduce Starr Black, head witch from a formidable founding family. She’s strong, she’s sassy, and she’s smart. Essentially, Starr is a force to be reckoned with. And she becomes Lily’s bestie as traditions break down. Starr couldn’t be more ready for it.
Quickly, we find that tradition exhausts Starr as she has her own way of doing things—drawing instead of spell-casting, chants, or chemistry—and she rants about her wish for freedom, mostly from the expectations of her society, but I’m sure being the eldest of five isn’t doing her any favors, either.
However, her family is an interesting one, as this Snow White look-a-like has a younger sister with rare abilities. Mary is a bloodhound, meaning she can track magical origins with the depths and ease historians would envy, but she’s also strong-willed and strong-minded—more immune to magic and spells and trickery than the rest, which comes in handy for Lily’s investigation and helps save some lives. I don’t know much about Mary yet, but she creates a hell of a lot of implications about the magical world these teens occupy. The largest is hierarchy, exactly what Starr feels buried under.
In fact, she can say it better than I can, so here are a few excerpts from this sassy spitfire—and one of my new favorite characters:
If you could use a spell to transform into another person for the day, who would you be and what would you do?
Her smile made me giddy, reminiscent of adolescent sleepover secrets. “Don’t laugh at me, but I’d be Henrietta Yukon. She’s this magic guru down in Oklahoma with her highly-watched YouTube channel. She mentors youth around the world on magic and creativity. The first time I met her at a convention, she blessed my fountain pen for clear lines and intentions. It’s the only one I use. She inspired me to keep working on my craft the way it felt right for me. No one else had ever done that. So, what I’d do is make a video about my own style of spell-weaving and let it domino through her viewers. I’ve got a guy who does computer hacking on my payroll. I can get it up there, believe me. I want to show people that the traditional way isn’t always the right way or the only way.”
She sighed the same way my friends sighed over hot guys when she talked about her magic.
She pulled her rose gold phone from her bag and tapped through to a picture of boy with a naturally dark tan. And man, he was pretty. Chiseled jaw, cheekbones, chin, and arms. And that’s because it was all I could see of him. Pretty sure everything else was chiseled, too. “Yeah. I know. He’s perfect. Beautiful, strong, princely even.”
“But…” I supplied the not so implicit segue to her problem.
“But, he’s boring. Goddess, he’s charming and agreeable and thoughtful.”
“And boring.” That all sounded nice to me.
“Where’s the intellectual foreplay, since when did that go out of style? Pride and Prejudice suffers on its shelf while women ask for Disney. It’s revolting. What is an educated young woman to do without debate and lively conversation?”
“What do you talk about?”
“Ugh.” The eye roll she gave me could have sent me back to kindergarten. “Whether we should go to the vineyard for the summer or Aspen for the holiday. Whether the function served the right food and who deserved the best cigars, or if the matte chrome or shiny chrome made the best flask. Highbrow, stuffy, boring stuff. Sports and tradition and society. Do you know what society does? Huh? Do you? It tells you not to be original or different or to encourage change.”
Her perfectly manicured nails matched the red of her lips as she signed her overwhelmed frustration. “I don’t want to be some clone automaton repeating the same existence to ensure that existence continues. I want fire.”
“Well, you know magic. Why don’t you make some fire?”
“I shouldn’t have to make my own fire.”
Prior to breaking into the school:
Starr appeared in one of the spotlights on the sidewalk, sauntering in heels, skinny jeans, and a long, billowing shirt. Somehow, her heels didn’t echo or clink like I expected. She stopped between us with a flourish.
“Oh, don’t give me that look. They’re enchanted to be silent. Please.”
Oh yeah, she’s a fun outlier, and I hope y’all like her as much as I do when she gets here this October!
And stay tuned for more mini-ethology lessons from Lily Graves’s world and sign up for an ARC of the first in her series, GIRL WITH THE GLOWING HAIR.