The November Witches by Jennifer Claessen

Published by UCLan

FROM the world of Jennifer Claessen’s previous novel, The October Witches, comes a fresh, adventurous exploration of how time can change everything.

With the end of October approaching, the world is full of autumnal colours and sights, and perhaps most importantly, stories. Claessen dares to ask the question we never thought to ask, where do all the witches go in November?

Clemmie is one of the young hags of her coven, the Merlyns. This normally means she is not expected to have found her own niche area of power, or even be truly able to contribute to magical affairs.

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However, last month, something unprecedented happened. Every year, through October, witches are blessed by the stars with their power and may use it at their discretion. For the rest of the 11 months, they are without any power and rely on the imperfect survival methods of humans.

While their enemy coven, the Morgans, resent this truth and attempt to steal power from the Merlyns to make themselves unstoppable, throwing off balance between the two covens forever, Clemmie is the one to take action.

In order to stop anyone from taking it all, she takes the risk of willingly sending their magic back to the stars and draining it from everyone.

Now, waking up in November, none of the Merlyns – Clemmie’s grumpy aunts, her adopted cousins Kerra and Senara who were once Morgans, and most importantly Clemmie herself – know whether she did the right thing.

Clemmie is shaken by the thought that now it has been so purposefully sent back in the heat of battle, magic will not be returned to them next October.

It is with this that our protagonist fears she must live for the next 11 months in a state of fear and guilt that she has let down her beloved aunts and mother and taken away their family identity.

Magic is utterly gone, and Clemmie must take Kerra to ordinary school to pass her time while her favoured and brightly funny cousin Mirabelle goes off travelling.

However, just as the young hags are about to set off on their new human lives, they are interrupted by magic. Strange things the coven cannot control seem to be appearing everywhere, from rapidly growing gardens to knights in suits of armour.

It is up to the cousins to solve the mystery of where this unusual magic is coming from and either harness or destroy it.

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On this mysterious adventure, Clemmie learns to love and respect not only the family members who may annoy her but vitally, herself.

The catastrophe of each twist and turn feels almost comfortable for the human teenager, who can be inclined to feel that every mistake they make is the end of the world.

It is this relatable feeling that pushes Clemmie to mature, lean on others for support where it’s needed, and replace self-shaming with thoughtful problem-solving in an engaging and enjoyable read.