Starred Review from PW!

«Season of the Witch
Mariah Fredericks. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-449-81277-8
Fredericks (The Girl in the Park) delivers an intense but hopeful tale of bullying, revenge, and grief…. Fredericks again proves her gift for conveying the intensity of adolescence, while exploring the ways girls’ sexuality is used against them and asking why “we all have to be predators and prey.”—PW

SLJ on Season of the Witch

“This darkly honest look at bullying, high school cliques, and teen drama amid family tragedy will have readers glued to the page for every last unexpected plot twist and turn.”—School Library Journal

Kirkus Review for Season

As a point of interest, I used to review for Kirkus. Their reviewers are usually very smart, savvy—and sometimes savage. I am always grateful when their knives stayed sheathed. Imagine my joy when they like the book!
 
SEASON OF THE WITCH
Author: Mariah Fredericks
A teenager worries that a spell she cast against a school bully will have serious consequences in this intriguing psychological thriller by the author of The Girl in the Park (2012).
High school junior Toni isn’t looking forward to the first day of school. Popular Chloe is furious at Toni for making out with her boyfriend while they were split up and is sending her threatening texts. In addition, Toni’s parents are struggling to recover from her father’s affair with his graduate assistant. Worried and alone, Toni reaches out to Cassie, her best friend Ella’s cousin, who is also suffering due to the recent death of her younger brother. Cassie tells Toni she’s a witch and can help her punish Chloe. Toni plays along, but when tragedy strikes the same night they hex Chloe, Toni is terrified the magic actually worked. She avoids Cassie until Cassie threatens to cast a spell on Ella for insinuating to their family that she had something to do with her brother’s death. Toni must broker a peace between the cousins while also learning how to be a better friend to both through nonmagical means. What seems at first to be a supernatural thriller is actually a realistic and frank treatise on karma and the redeeming power of female friendship. Fredericks displays an insider’s knowledge of dramatic adolescent interactions through unaffected prose and dialogue-heavy chapters that make the pages fly.
A refreshing take on the mean-girl trope. (Fiction. 13-16)

First review for Season of the Witch!

Thank you kindly, Booklist!
Season of the Witch.
Fredericks, Mariah (Author)
All is not well at New York’s elite DeKalb Community School. Toni’s bête noire, Chloe, is on a rampage, seeking revenge for Toni’s having dated her hapless boyfriend, Oliver, over the summer. Tired of being bullied, Toni turns to her mysterious new friend, Cassandra, for help. Consulting her Book of Shadows,
Cassandra offers that help in an unlikely form: a witch’s spell targeting Oliver, who—having failed to speak up in Toni’s defense—is rendered mute for a week. Pleased by their success, the two girls decide to cast a more powerful spell against the vengeful Chloe, but this time, the results are tragic. Toni is left riddled with guilt and horrified when Cassandra then decides to turn her destructive talents toward her innocent cousin. Can Toni stop her? Is Cassandra a witch? Does she have evil powers? Fredericks’ reader pleasing new novel is a page-turning, well-realized horror story of revenge gone awry and the possibility of finding redemption in the power of goodness.

Followed Home—What Trayvon Martin and I Have in Common and What We Don’t

When I first heard about the shooting in Florida, I felt it very much as a gun issue. Another jerk with a gun in his hand and a chip on his shoulder who felt someone owed him a life because he didn’t like how his had turned out. Then people started talking about George Zimmerman’s victim, Trayvon Martin. They started talking about hoodies and self defense, and I thought, Oh, my God, it’s Jennifer Levin all over again. The Girl in the Park is based on what was known as The Preppie Murder of the late 80s. A young woman went into Central Park with a young man. He walked out a little while later. She was dead. He admitted to killing her, but claimed it was “self defense,” despite the fact that she was half his size. His lawyers trashed her in the papers. She was a party girl, she drank, had lots of boyfriends. To many people, Jennifer seemed a little slutty, a little dumb. It was sad, what happened to her, but…sort of one of those things. Her killer, Robert Chambers, got a hung jury and pleaded to a lesser charge. After the trial, his behavior made it abundantly clear he was a sociopath. He is still in jail today for other crimes.

It has always seemed very clear to me that George Zimmerman was guilty. He was told to stay put. He didn’t. He didn’t because he had decided that Trayvon Martin was a thug and he was going to get him. We know this from what he said. “They always get away with it.” I cannot imagine anyone who seriously disagrees with Trayvon Martin’s father when he says that had Trayvon been white, this would never have happened.

Every time we heard what Trayvon Martin said or did, I felt rage. It was blame the victim all over again. The only thing he said that mattered was when he said “Some creepy ass cracker is following me.” Because that told me he knew he had bad news walking behind him and he was scared.

When I was 15, I walked to a friend’s house at night. About two blocks from her house, I had the strong sense I was being followed. I stepped up the pace until I got to her lobby, a tiny vestibule. A man followed me and grabbed me violently. I punched him in the face. I don’t deserve any Wonder Woman credit for that; my nervous system does. I was being attacked and the Fight/Flight alarm went off. To my amazement, my body chose fight. Which startled the guy—who was white, if anyone cares—and he ran.

So, what would have happened if he’d had a gun? Would he have been within his rights to shoot me? Of course not. And if he had, self-defense would have been a tough claim, given that I am small, a woman, and white. (Although I hear the ghost of Jennifer Levin chuckle, “Don’t be too sure about that.”) If I did the right thing—and most people will say I did—then didn’t Trayvon Martin also do the right thing?

It has always made complete sense to me that Trayvon Martin would hit George Zimmerman. He was being followed. He was frightened. He was defending himself. But it is not okay to hit someone in self-defense, it is okay to kill them. Explaining her verdict, one juror said she felt bad for both of them, but it was one of those things. Terrible, but Zimmerman was afraid—although not afraid enough to follow the 911 operator’s instructions and stay put. Just afraid of that young man with his snacks that he had to kill him.

I was afraid of a lot of men I saw in the street the year I was attacked. I was quite convinced they were going to hurt me. My feeling was real—but obviously irrational. And had I shot any of them, I would deserve to go to jail. But I don’t own a gun. And I don’t want to. One of the first things Zimmerman’s lawyer did after he was acquitted was to demand his gun back. This is a man who has lost jobs because of his anger, has been involved in domestic violence, and has now killed someone. But hey, we can’t take away his gun.

Behold! The cover for Season of the Witch

9780449812785

Well, I just love this cover. I love the scratchy type, the moody girl with the slightly upturned mouth, the blood-and-fire color palette—the whole thing’s great. I would grab it right off the shelf, and I hope you do too, come October 8th. Kudos to the brilliant minds at Random House.

Girl in the Park makes Bank Street’s Best of 2013 list

I am thrilled to announce that The Girl in the Park made the Bank Street College Children’s Book Committee’s list of Best Books of 2013. Bank Street is a beloved entity on the Upper West Side where I grew up. Rain’s house is located just blocks away. Very few honors could have pleased me more.