ARC Review: Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega

Title: Witchlings

Author: Claribel A. Ortega

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on

Rating: ★★★★★

Book Links:

Goodreads Synopsis

A magical adventure for fans of Amari and the Night Brothers and Nevermoor, about three witchlings who must work together to do the impossible if they have any hope of earning their full powers.

Every year, in the magical town of Ravenskill, Witchlings who participate in the Black Moon Ceremony are placed into covens and come into their powers as full-fledged witches.

And twelve-year-old Seven Salazar can’t wait to be placed in the most powerful coven with her best friend! But on the night of the ceremony, in front of the entire town, Seven isn’t placed in one of the five covens. She’s a Spare!

Spare covens have fewer witches, are less powerful, and are looked down on by everyone. Even worse, when Seven and the other two Spares perform the magic circle to seal their coven and cement themselves as sisters, it doesn’t work! They’re stuck as Witchlings—and will never be able to perform powerful magic.

Seven invokes her only option: the impossible task. The three Spares will be assigned an impossible task: If they work together and succeed at it, their coven will be sealed and they’ll gain their full powers. If they fail… Well, the last coven to make the attempt ended up being turned into toads. Forever.

But maybe friendship can be the most powerful magic of all…

With action-packed adventure, a coven of quirky witchlings, Claribel A. Ortega’s signature humor and girl-power vibes, this middle grade Latine witch story is truly a modern classic.

My Review

“No, a voice in her head said. She was Seven Nightshade Salazar, and the one thing she wouldn’t do was give up.”

Thank you to Scholastic Press for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions written in this review are my own. Any quotes used are subject to change in the final copy.

Some might ask why I, a 39 year old woman, love reading middle grade novels so much. It’s because, when you come across a particularly good one, it feels like it revives my soul. Like it’s a warm hug to my tired, middle-aged brain. And Witchlings is not just a particularly good middle grade fantasy… it’s absolutely fantastic!

This is the story of three witches thrown together in the most random of circumstances. Seven Salazar has always had a plan for her life: get into the coven of her dreams with her best friend and become a renowned witch journalist. All her plans go out the window when, during the Black Moon Ceremony, she is singled out as a Spare, a witch forever destined to have lesser magic. Not only that, but she’s stuck in a coven with her long-time bully, Valley, and the new Witchling in town, Thorn and the spell to seal their coven doesn’t work. Seven does the only thing she can think to do to save them from being Witchlings forever: she invokes the impossible task. Now she must learn to work with her new coven or face a gruesome fate.

I’m having one of those moments that every book blogger has. That moment where you love a book so much that you struggle to find words to express that love. All I want to do is yell “READ THIS NOW” to anyone who even slightly enjoys fantasy or middle grade novels! This is everything I could want in a middle grade fantasy and more. Let’s talk about the world, first, shall we? The world that Claribel A. Ortega is warm and inviting, but has a bit of a dark underbelly. It is whimsical, it is magical, and it will introduce younger readers to issues they may not have had to think about before. I loved all the witchy aspects of this world and I thought the author did a great job of pulling me in. This is a world that I could stay in for hours on end!

Of course, with as action-packed as this story is, it won’t take you too long to read. The plot of this story starts off running and doesn’t ease up until you’ve reached the end! It was fast-paced, intriguing, and definitely made me want to keep turning pages. I love a plot that completely engrosses me and this book pulled that off easily. This was just so much fun and I found it hard to put the book down to do boring things like, ya know, eating and sleeping. Pish. I also love the lessons that are threaded throughout this story. Lessons on teamwork, on fighting for what’s right, and, probably most prominently, friendship.

And speaking of friendship, can we talk about how much I adore Seven, Thorn, and Valley? Because I would legitimately go to war for them! There are quite a few adults I wanted to fight in this book because they were rude to my Spares and how dare they?! It’s been awhile since I’ve felt so protective over fictional characters, but the author did such an incredible job with these three that I immediately got attached. And it’s not only the main three that are written in such a vivid way. All the characters in this story practically come to life on the pages! Some of them you rather wish they didn’t (looking at you, Mr. Pepperhorn…) but I love that they are all so compelling. I also love that the cast of characters are quite diverse and inclusive. I want that in all of my reads, but I especially appreciate it in books targeted toward younger readers. I know what it’s like growing up as a reader and never really seeing yourself represented in books. I’m so happy that books like this exist now so kids these days don’t have to know what that’s like.

Final thoughts: I could ramble on about this book for hours! This is everything I love and adore about middle grade novels. It has beautiful world-building, lots of important lessons, tons of whimsy, and some of the best characters I’ve read in awhile. I love the witchy vibes, I love the action-packed plot, and I love being able to watch the characters grow throughout the story. This was a magical read and I certainly hope that we get more books in this world!


2 thoughts on “ARC Review: Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega

  1. […] Thoughts: I ended the month with another five star read! This was such a heartwarming and fun middle grade fantasy. It was action-packed, a little dark, and brought up some tough issues that I thought were important lessons for the intended audience. I loved everything about this book, but my favorite aspect has to be our three main characters, Seven, Thorn, and Valley. I adore them so much and can’t wait to continue their story! You can read my full review here. […]


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