At the Black Moon Ceremony each year, every twelve-year-old Witchling in the Twelve Towns is chosen for a Coven. Seven Salazar has dreamed her entire life of being placed in Hyacinth House alongside her best friend, Poppy, where they would race toads together and learn new magic and never again have to deal with her relentless bully, Valley Pepperhorn. Only all Seven's plans don't work out, because at the Black Moon Ceremony, she isn't chosen for Hyacinth House--or any other coven. Seven, Valley, and a Witchling named Thorn are left as Spares, covenless and magicless, the worst possible fate.
Determined not to lose her future so easily, Seven invokes the Impossible Task. If she and her fellow Spares succeed and fell a monstrous Nightbeast, they'll keep their magic and be sealed as a proper coven. If not? They'll be turned into toads.
Seven is less than thrilled to be forced to work with Valley, but she doesn't have much of a choice if she wants to complete the Impossible Task. Especially since as she, Valley, and Thorn learn more about the Nightbeast and try to track it down, they discover that another witch is hiding it. And maybe some even more dangerous secrets, too...
Witchlings is a light, funny, and fast-paced fantasy novel that could appeal to fans of the quirkiness and strong characters of The Last Fallen Star, Strangeworlds Travel Agency, and Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch. Ortega's characters are spot-on, full of personality and layered relationships that make them feel both developed and extremely real. Seven, Thorn, and Valley stick out in particular--the ways they connect and bounce off each other make them fun to read about and utterly relatable. I also love the world of Witchlings, which is full of interesting and unique details that together create a setting that seems to extend well past the boundaries of the story. I recommend Witchlings to readers ages nine and up, particularly those who enjoy quest fantasy with a fresh twist.