Wyrd by Cate Whittle
Scholastic Australia, 2018. ISBN 9781742994321
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Themes: Blended families, Stepchildren, Families, Supernatural. When two people in love marry, their thoughts are not always about the others who will be affected by their union, and in this novel, the three children, Julie's two children, Pip and Squeak, and Dan's daughter, Emma are very much aggrieved.
Emma and Pip, short for Philippa already know each other at school. In the same year group, 5/6, they hate each other with a vengeance. Now that they are to become a blended family, their hostility increases. Once the marriage takes place and they are to share one house, Pip and Emma are given bedrooms next to each other in the attic, and the parents blithely expect the two girls to become sisters overnight. They do not see the enmity which exists between them, each blaming their own child for a lack of patience with the other. But one night at a sleepover Pip's friends come along with a witches book they have found in a secondhand bookshop. Casting spells, things go very wrong indeed, and when Emma tells Pip to lighten up, she does, spectacularly.
A very readable story of blended families and their initial misunderstandings, once Emma becomes a witch and finds she has powers she doesn't want, the two must come to some mutual if cool understanding to set things right. Emma does not like being a witch and is very careful about what she says, but when she thinks about a storm and one appears, throwing Squeak with enough force to break his arm, she is racked by guilt. The five girls come back together to try to find the spell they were working on when the unexpected happened. But every time they find words that may help in the book, they disappear.
Fast moving, funny with astute observations about blended families and the issues that surround their making, about friendships and siblings, the book will appeal to upper primary people, particularly those absorbed by the idea of witches, spells and the vaguely supernatural.