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[Book Review] "A Wicked Magic" by Sasha Laurens

The complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within all of us.

By Meg IlsleyPublished 2 months ago 5 min read


The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.

Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.

During a spell gone wrong, Liss's boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss's friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?

Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss's orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she's hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.

When another teenager disappears, the girls know it's no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?

Set in the atmospheric wilds of California's northern coast, Sasha Laurens's thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.

GENRE: Non-Fiction; Memoir; Autobiography

PUBLISHED: July 28, 2020

RECEPTION: Mixed-Positive (4.1 on Amazon; 3.22 on Goodreads)

CONTENT WARNINGS: self-harm, suicide, suicidal ideation, mental abuse, mental illness, physical abuse, abduction, kidnapping, sexual content involving minors, drinking, drug use; full details here.


A Wicked Magic is the debut fantasy-thriller novel of American YA author, Sasha Laurens. Described as The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft, the story follows the lives of three main characters - teenage girls Liss, Dan, and Alexa. I began reading A Wicked Magic as a physical story - as this is the medium I prefer - but found it difficult to get hooked, so I pivoted to listening to it as an audiobook instead. While the audiobook made it easier to get through the story, I finished A Wicked Magic with two feelings on the story: it was exhausting (and not in a good way) and, to quote the beginning of goodreads user Tsundoku By the Day's review of the story, "that wasn't what I was expecting"...

A Wicked Magic starts slow but the opening chapter is promising. In it we are introduced to two of the main characters - best friends Dan and Liss - and to the concept of magic as they perform a spell from the mysterious Black Book that will turn them into witches. Harnessing the power of magic goes well for the girls (who feel powerless in their every day life) until a spell results in Liss' boyfriend, Johnny, going missing. Following these events, Liss and Dan fall out and Dan becomes friends with a new girl, Alexa, who gets pulled into the chaos and mystery by association. These are not surprising concepts, as they are introduced - at least somewhat - in the synopsis from the story.

If you are expecting more magic beyond the setup and the synopsis, however, then you are likely to be disappointed. Based on the setup in the chapter one, I was expecting a story filled with mystery, magic, demons, and more, but the story fails to deliver on any of those concepts. Sure, there are a few mentions of magic (largely through Liss who has become obsessed with the Black Book to the point of obsession and addiction) and of mystical and supernatural things (such as where Johnny is held), but all of this falls by the wayside. Instead, we follow Liss and Dan attempting to mend their friendship, Alexa and Dan building a new friendship, Alexa's home life and insecurities, and the complexities of managing new and old friendships.

These are not poor concepts for a YA novel, but they do not deliver on the story that was promised in the synopsis. In fact, I would argue that had the author eliminated magic from the story entirely, and instead focused on the friendships of the main characters and the disappearance of Johnny, the story might have been more compelling. A girl's boyfriend goes missing, the police thing he ran away, the friendships of teenage girls are tested, and their home lives make navigating the real world difficult? This could have made for an interesting YA thriller or YA mystery and we would not be left with a story whose supernatural elements felt, frankly, unnecessary.

Even when the "big reveal" happens later in the book, it feels as if it was just there for the purpose of drama and not the purpose of the story.

In addition, I believe Laurens did a disservice to potential readers by neglecting to include a content warning at the start of her book (and the start of the audiobook). Granted, she did include one on goodreads, but it was as a comment, and not everyone will go to an author's website to see the warnings on a story. While I personally do not have major sensitivities to the subject matter in the story (I do have a minor sensitivity to drug and alcohol use), there is content in this story that can be problematic for readers if they are not forewarned (and as there is no hint of it in the synopsis, readers cannot make an educated decision).

I wanted to find something - beyond the beautifully designed cover - to like about this story. However, the repetitiveness of the chapters, the writing style, the lack of distinctness between characters, the lack of magic, and the unexpected nature of the story versus the synopsis, all come together to make a story I cannot be excited about. I did not care about these characters (nor did I root for them or feel they were good "main characters") or the mystery of the story, because I was not given a reason to care. The plot was a good idea, but it was not executed well at all, and the organisation of chapters and the narrative made it difficult to follow.

FINAL RATING: 1.5 stars; would not recommend

PURCHASE: Available on,, and in most major bookstores.


American author Sasha Laurens is the creative mind behind contemporary YA fantasy novels, A Wicked Magic and Youngblood. She has a PhD in political science that she puts to use researching protest in authoritarian states. You can learn more about Sasha on her website.


About the Creator

Meg Ilsley

Born in Australia, I moved to Canada in 2013 where I live with my four cats and two snakes. I have a Certificate in Creative Writing, am pursuing a Diploma of Graphic Design, and am an amateur author. Find me on Goodreads or Instagram.

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  • Meg Ilsley (Author)2 months ago

    Note for readers: the genre of this story was not updated before publishing (an error as a result of my tired brain getting over being ill). This story is YA fantasy/thriller.

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