By Heather A.
4 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.
So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.
Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.
I loved this book. I thought it was just the right amount of fun and angsty. Mila is a great character. She’s someone that you want to root for. I love that she just embraces the consequences of the spell that brings back her friend and the mean girls. I picked this up from the library after adding it to our list of Monsters & Mayhem in October, thinking that this was mostly about zombies, but it turns out that the main plot points revolve around witchcraft.
Which is great! I love that the magic system seems simple, almost, but in execution it was way more complicated. Mila was confident in her abilities, though it brought back two other people! The spell that brings back these three ladies only lasts for 7 days, and I appreciate that it didn’t feel like a long time. Each person in the ‘gang’ had an arc, and their story was told in a thoughtful manner. Even Mila, who is still living, has a supportive family as she comes to terms with Riley’s passing.
I really appreciate our non-average protagonist, too. She is Latinx and larger than the average size (compared to her friends in the novel). It’s refreshing because you don’t see that often. Plus, before the climax, she gets to hang out with her love interest. Always support these types of characters.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the girl gang is awesome. Despite how they acted when they were alive, the mean girls, June and Dayton, are super supportive of Mila and Riley for the seven days they are back on earth (per the spell). I appreciate how well they worked together, and they weren’t trying to sabotage one another. Another reason to love this book, supportive female friendships.
If you like YA, female friendships, and magic, this book is for you. It’s light, despite some heavy themes, like grief, and is overall a fun read.
Spoiler alert! My thoughts on the climax are below!
OK so the biggest “oh, no” moment for me was when Riley’s brother, Xander, turns out to be behind all the deaths. I didn’t see it coming, although maybe I was willfully blocking the signs because I didn’t want the idyllic relationship to be broken up. I was heartbroken because I really wanted Mila and Xander to get together! He starts showing interest in Mila, who has had a crush on him for ages. They are together in their shared grief. It’s adorable. But once the girls put the spell out to find the “rotten” one, it’s revealed that he killed June and Dayton, and now that Mila and the others know his secret, he unravels. The change from love interest to villain is swift. But Mila is strong. She leaves her former feelings behind and saves her friends, which was the right thing to do. And even though her friends only existed for a few more hours after the fire incident, it was important that she have the closure.