Good morning and happy Friday! I hope everyone has had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend! I know I am!
This morning I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Julia Tuffs debut novel Hexed. I’m sharing my review so read on to discover my thoughts!
Author: Julia Tuffs
Publication Date: 8th July 2021
This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review
About The Book…
Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Sex Education – Jessie Jones has just discovered she’s a witch. Too bad there isn’t a hex to make slimy Callum Henderson and his friends disappear … yet. A feisty, funny YA series about discovering your place and your power.
New girl, new school, new life on stupid island – thanks Mum. All Jessie Jones wants is to keep her head down, avoid school douchebag Callum Henderson, and coast – middle-of-the-road-like. But when strange powers start to manifest during crippling period pains, flying under the radar seems highly unlikely.
Can Jessie embrace her new-found witchiness, control her erratic powers and work out a way to bring down Callum and his cult of toxic masculinity?
Jessie Jones is used to moving, it’s not the first time that her mum has moved and she’s needed to change schools with her sister – she just keeps her head down and tries to go unnoticed. This time though her mum has moved her from the big city back to the Isle of Wight. On the island where everyone knows everyone staying in the background isn’t so simple, and when you add in some personal revelations just getting through the term is a challenge for Jessie.
I was pleasantly surprised by Hexed. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting having not read much about the book before picking it up, perhaps something more firmly fantasy based. For me, Hexed felt like a contemporary YA novel, with a little flavour of fantasy to make it feel a little different.
I certainly cannot claim to be an expert in any sort of witchcraft so I’m not going to go into any detail on the way witchcraft was presented in the book, I’m not sure if the book is meant to represent a specific practice or is a blend, or combination of various practices but I found it a really interesting read. One thing I would say is I really liked the fact that Jessie coming into her powers was very heavily linked to her period. It’s perhaps an unintended side effect but I think normalising periods in the media in general is a really important thing. There are so many misconceptions and just lack of knowledge in general out there so the more it’s normalised the better!
The book also deals with some important contemporary issues, exploring sexism and misogyny. The idea that ‘boys will be boys’ and that the behaviours they display aren’t worth challenging, and it’s the girls that should just deal with being scored, or rumours being spread about ‘how far they’ve gone’ or ‘how easy they are’. It certainly happened when I was at school, and (without sounding too old) I suspect with social media becoming so much more prevalent it’s something that has the potential to be even more damaging now. Even though I wasn’t expecting to see these sorts of issues tackled in the book I was really happy to see them discussed and tackled. I was also quite a fan of the outcome, without giving too much away there were some positives, but also the idea that some people were able to escape with barely a consequence. As disappointing as that may be I think it added an additional layer of realism to the conclusion.
I really liked the combination of characters throughout the story. Jessie is a wonderful central character; she’s not perfect, although if I discovered I had powers I can’t say I wouldn’t have used them when I felt I saw something unjust happen… I liked the relationship that developed between Jessie, Summer and Tabitha, they were a pleasant reminder of how females can work together and support one another, especially when they ignore the bits of society that try and put women into competition with one another. Nonna also has to get a special mention for just being generally awesome, she reminded me slightly of my grandma, although mine didn’t have powers!
I’m also going to give a brief mention to the setting, I’ve only ever spent a couple of weeks on the Isle of Wight for a summer holiday but having grown up in a town in Devon, born into a family who had lived there for a few generations at least I could definitely appreciate the small town feel, where everyone knows everyone and everyone has some sort of link to a family member and I loved that little sense of familiarity I got from the story.
I definitely enjoyed the magical elements of this book (as someone who grew up with the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch how could I not) but for me this was less a book about magic and more a book about the importance of being true to yourself and for standing up for what you know is right even if that’s not always the easiest route to take. Hexed is certainly not the first book to deal with some of the issues facing young women today in terms of sexism and misogyny and the additional pressure and difficulties that social media can cause, and I hope it will not be the last. The issues discussed are ones that need to be talked about, needs to be out in the open and not hidden in the shadows so we can all work together towards removing them from society. Overall I think Julia did a wonderful job of combining the different threads together to create a really well paced thought provoking read. I really enjoyed the characters within it and I was pleased to see that there is another book featuring Jessie is coming next year.
About The Author…
After a brief (but fun) stint working in television and as a primary school teacher, Julia Tuffs decided to take her writing dreams more seriously. She lives in South-West London with her family and ragdoll cats (Billy and Nora) and spends her time writing, reading, dreaming of holidays and watching too much reality TV. She aims to write the kinds of books that shaped and inspired her as a teenager.
HEXED is her debut novel.
Connect With Julia
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As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?