Review: “How to Succeed in Witchcraft” by Aislinn Brophy

Release Date: September 27, 2022
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult


Magically brilliant, academically perfect, chronically overcommitted–Shay Johnson has all the makings of a successful witch. As a junior at T.K. Anderson Magical Magnet School, she’s determined to win the Brockton Scholarship–her ticket into the university of her dreams. Her competition? Ana freaking Álvarez. The key to victory? Impressing Mr. B, drama teacher and head of the scholarship committee.When Mr. B asks Shay to star in this year’s aggressively inclusive musicalshe warily agrees, even though she’ll have to put up with Ana playing the other lead. But in rehearsals, Shay realizes Ana is . . . not the despicable witch she’d thought. Perhaps she could be a friend–or more. And Shay could use someone in her corner once she becomes the target of Mr. B’s unwanted attention. When Shay learns she’s not the first witch to experience his inappropriate behavior, she must decide if she’ll come forward. But how can she speak out when her future’s on the line?

My Thoughts

None of the marketing, from what I’ve seen, has made anything of the Pride and Prejudice influence on How to Succeed in Witchcraft, but it felt to me like a pretty solid retelling. Jane Austen’s classic comedy of manners is one of my favorite novels of all time. I’ll consume just about any adaptation of her work, regardless of quality, but I keep an extra special lookout for BIPOC and/or queer retellings. How to Succeed in Witchcraft has a Pride and Prejudice-related subplot – the play the kids are putting on is basically a cross between In the Heights and Ibi Zoboi’s Pride – but the main story also par­allels nicely. In this case, Shay is Darcy, Ana is Lizzie, Lex is Charlotte, Mr. B is Mr. Collis and Mr. Wickham, Shay’s mom is Mrs. Bennett and Lady Catherine, Shay’s dad is Mr. Bennett, Ed and Mikey are Kitty and Mary, and Brittany is a triple blend of Caroline, Lydia, and Georgiana.

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