In this sequel to 2017’s The Witch Boy, author Molly Knox Ostertag returns to the magical world of the Vanissen family. While Aster’s family now allows him to openly learn witchcraft, fully accepting his identity is another matter.
To help him catch up with the other witches in his family, Aster’s grandmother offers to tutor him, suggesting that Aster might be able to help heal Mikasi. Though Aster wants to learn magic, he’s not sure he can face Mikasi after fighting against his hatred so openly. Meanwhile, Aster’s “Muggle” friend, Charlie, realizes there’s something strange about the new girl at school, Ariel, and she’s going to need Aster’s help to find out what it is.
Unsurprisingly, Molly Knox Ostertag continues to be a delight. As with The Witch Boy, The Hidden Witch is a gripping fantasy that also grapples elegantly with issues of identity. I love that the tragic family events of the previous installment aren’t forgotten or explained away – Aster’s cousin Sedge is also questioning his role in the family after being used as part of Mikasi’s wicked schemes.
More than that, I love how it continues to push the boundaries of what – and who – becomes evil. Even after all of the horrible things Mikasi did, his family doesn’t give up on him. It’s a powerful arc of redemption that reminds readers that, just as family can radically misunderstand you – as Aster’s did in The Witch Boy – they can also provide unmatched belief and support in you.
I doubt anyone who read The Witch Boy needs my recommendation, but for those of you who haven’t started this series yet, you should definitely give it a try!
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Scholastic, for review.