A Sharp Sophomore Novel: The Scratch Daughters by H. A. Clarke

Release Date: October 25, 2022
Series: Scapegracers #2
Publisher: Erewhon
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


Sideways Pike is desperate. It turns out that Madeline Kline didn’t want to make out with her; infinitely worse, she was only flirting to get access to Sideways’ specter. Madeline has ripped the magical soul out of Sideways’ throat, and with it, everything that makes a witch feel whole. Madeline would know: the Chantry boys took hers, and she’s going to use Sideways’ specter to hunt them down and get it back.

Sideways Pike, lesbian witch extraordinaire, isn’t going to let little things like a treacherous crush or a brutal family of creepy witch hunters stop her, even if it means tracking down Madeline without the Scapegracers–her best friends, her coven, the girls she’s come to love ferociously above all else. But Sideways and her trusty bike are in for a bumpy ride . . .

In The Scratch Daughters, indie-bestselling author H. A. Clarke crafts a brilliant sequel to their tender, biting debut The Scapegracers: a raw and roiling tribute to queer lineage, to finding oneself, and to the deep love of chosen family.

My Thoughts

If The Scapegracers was capital “Q” Queer, the The Scratch Daughters is a massive purple neon sign. Multiple characters come out, and two as something other than the gender foisted upon them at birth. I’m keeping this vague less because of spoilers and more because I think it’s important that the reader experience the questioning and unfolding of these characters’ identities alongside the characters. That being said, one of the characters who comes out as being under the gender expansive umbrella is one of the dreaded Chantry clan. Here, many authors would forgive that character’s countless sins and pull them into the coven with no hard feelings. H. A. Clarke doesn’t let them off that easy. They made choices, bad and impossible ones, but theirs nonetheless. They intentionally caused harm and potentially even got people killed. Being a closeted queer in an anti-queer family doesn’t absolve them of anything. Sideways holds them accountable, not by cutting them off but by giving them a chance. Sideways offers forgiveness dependent on that Chantry’s future actions. Reparations and restorative justice are the most important parts of an apology, queer or not.

Read the rest of this review at Tor.com.

Buy at Bookshop.org (affiliate link).

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