ARC Review: THE SCRATCH DAUGHTERS (The Scapegracers #2) by H.A. Clarke (2022)

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Year Release: October 25th, 2022
Buy Links: | Unabridged Bookstore

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an advanced copy on NetGalley
Content warning: kidnapping, murder, queerphobia, parental abuse, drug use, attempted school shooting, school lockdown, eating an eyeball, arson
Gentle spoilers for The Scapegracers

The queer witch gang is back in the second installment of The Scapegracers trilogy. It picks up where the previous book left off, with Sideways without her specter, and the only clues anyone has are Sideways’ mental connection with Madeline, the girl who stole it. The Chantry boys remain a threat, on top of the typical teenage foibles of finals and catching up on one’s studies.

Intense in its magic and its love for queer women and teen friendships, this second entry is a triumph, and I have several fears for Sideways and gang in book three.

An interview with H.A. Clarke is forthcoming.

This sequel is everything excellent in The Scapegracers turned up to 11. The boys are even worse (derogatory), the girls are worse (complementary), there’s more magic, more spells, and a masterfully woven helping of lore with regards to Mr. Scratch and the wider world of witchcraft. None of it apologizes for its presentation. Frank, unflinching, Clarke continues to bite with his prose and charm with his characters.

I think what I appreciate the most about this series is how the characters are very much in high school, but typical high school hallmarks like junior prom aren’t part of the main plot beats. In fact, the goings-on at school don’t necessarily revolve around Sideways and gang, even though there is much gossip about them. There are allusions to events, but not everything is connected to Sideways, and it really worked for me. They witchy quartet are the main characters of their story, but the entire ecosystem does not revolve around them.

The prose continues to be wonderfully sweet, and sour like candy. There’s a crunchy interruption in its flow that meshes so well with both the myriad stressors pulling on Sideways, but also genuinely depicts the scatteredness of a teenage mind. It’s acknowledging that teens are disasters, but with so much love and attention. Which also emerges in the interactions among Sideways, Jing, and Daisy. When they fight in this book, it’s not to cause unnecessary conflict. Fierce love burns among the four of them even brighter from start to finish (unfortunate pun intended). Though Sideways has the concern about her friendships being over, I, as a reader, trust both Clarke and the established relationships to survive the tumult.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but this also extends to the new queer who joins their posse. That arc is refreshingly complex and really shows off how good and authentic a person Sideways is despite the jagged edges. Clarke effortlessly navigates liminal spaces within queerness, especially when it comes to history and finding community. It’s so compassionate, and one of the book’s triumphs.

The lesbian witches who are gay are back and more magical than ever.

One thought on “ARC Review: THE SCRATCH DAUGHTERS (The Scapegracers #2) by H.A. Clarke (2022)

  1. Pingback: October 2022 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

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