“Witches Gone Wicked” by Sarina Dorie

Witches Gone Wicked: Womby’s School for Wayward Witches #3

Witches Gone Wicked

Sarina Dorie

What would Hogwarts be like from the point of view of a teacher? Especially one who can’t do magic?

That’s basically the premise behind “Witches Gone Wicked,” by Sarina Dorie. Clarissa was raised in the Morty world, but it turns out she has magical powers. Only she’s never learned to use them. Now she’s gotten a job as an art teacher at Womby’s School for Wayward Witches, which is supposed to provide her with gainful employment in a place safe from the Fae, and give her a place she can learn to control her magic. Best laid plans…

The book makes its borrowing of Harry Potter clear, and while it’s not exactly fan fiction, it’s not exactly not fan fiction, either. So Harry Potter fans are probably either going to love it because it has so much in common with their favorite series, or hate it because it’s close but not close enough. Certainly worth checking out if you’re jonesing for some magical school drama, in any case.

Making it from the point of view of a teacher is a fun change. Maybe the best parts of the story are in when Clarissa deals with the frustrations common to American high school teachers: big classes full of under-achieving students, and a constant lack of supplies. Without, I hope, giving too much away, some major plot points hang on the lack of supplies and teachers having to scrounge up scrap paper, literally, in order to teach their classes. And all the while the school board and their standardized tests are breathing down the school’s neck…

This is also a more grown-up version of the same basic story in that romantic entanglements feature heavily, including a bit of a–I’ll try not to give too much away again–love triangle between Clarissa and someone who’s clearly a Snape character and someone who’s clearly a Gilderoy Lockhart character. In fact, the relationship between Clarissa and Thatch (the Snape character) has some of the most genuinely insightful and moving moments in the book, as Thatch asks Clarissa what she thinks it’s like to be the Devil and the Dungeon Master, the person who does the controlling and punishing of their charges. Although the book is mainly about exuberant spell-based magic in the vein of Harry Potter, it also touches upon serious issues surrounding contemporary education, something that sets it apart from a lot of post-Potter works out there.

This is the third book in a series, but the first one I’ve read. It refers to events in previous books, and sets up the next book, but can also be read on its own.

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