Cover Image: The Scratch Daughters

The Scratch Daughters

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The Scratch Daughters by H.A. Clarke is the follow up to their successful 2021 release " The Scapegracers" and I highly recommend that readers start with that book before reading The Scratch Daughters as it provides a lot of background and character development that is essential if the reader is to enjoy The Scratch Daughters, but also because it is an excellent book in its own right. 
The Scratch Daughters picks up right where The Scapegracers leaves off, and it was a real treat to re- join Sideways and her newly formed coven as they begin the hunt for the thief who stole Sideways' spectre, the force that gave her her magical abilities. Without it she is struggling and even the temporary fix the coven has resorted to is only just about holding up. Sideways needs her spectre back as soon as possible but even her coven members think her latest plan is just too risky. Without any other options Sideways decides to forge ahead alone, even though it will mean facing up to those who almost killed her for her magic only months before. 
I have been deliberately vague in my description to avoid spoilers of either book in the series but many of the things I loved about the first book are still here in the latest one. I loved the LGBTQIA+ representation throughout the book, which is unabashedly gloriously queer. The characters are everything in this book, and I loved seeing their growth and transformations over the course of the book, with many ups and downs and plenty of complications. Sideways is one of the most original and unique narrators I have encountered in a long time and I really enjoyed her perspective. I also liked that the author expanded more on the way magic works in their world but in a way that was fully integrated into the story being told. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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Content warning: kidnapping, murder, queerphobia, parental abuse, drug use, attempted school shooting, school lockdown, eating an eyeball, arson
Gentle spoilers for The Scapegracers

The queer witch gang is back in the second installment of The Scapegracers trilogy. It picks up where the previous book left off, with Sideways without her specter, and the only clues anyone has are Sideways’ mental connection with Madeline, the girl who stole it. The Chantry boys remain a threat, on top of the typical teenage foibles of finals and catching up on one’s studies.

Intense in its magic and its love for queer women and teen friendships, this second entry is a triumph, and I have several fears for Sideways and gang in book three.

This sequel is everything excellent in The Scapegracers turned up to 11. The boys are even worse (derogatory), the girls are worse (complementary), there’s more magic, more spells, and a masterfully woven helping of lore with regards to Mr. Scratch and the wider world of witchcraft. None of it apologizes for its presentation. Frank, unflinching, Clarke continues to bite with his prose and charm with his characters.

I think what I appreciate the most about this series is how the characters are very much in high school, but typical high school hallmarks like junior prom aren’t part of the main plot beats. In fact, the goings-on at school don’t necessarily revolve around Sideways and gang, even though there is much gossip about them. There are allusions to events, but not everything is connected to Sideways, and it really worked for me. They witchy quartet are the main characters of their story, but the entire ecosystem does not revolve around them.

The prose continues to be wonderfully sweet, and sour like candy. There’s a crunchy interruption in its flow that meshes so well with both the myriad stressors pulling on Sideways, but also genuinely depicts the scatteredness of a teenage mind. It’s acknowledging that teens are disasters, but with so much love and attention. Which also emerges in the interactions among Sideways, Jing, and Daisy. When they fight in this book, it’s not to cause unnecessary conflict. Fierce love burns among the four of them even brighter from start to finish (unfortunate pun intended). Though Sideways has the concern about her friendships being over, I, as a reader, trust both Clarke and the established relationships to survive the tumult.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but this also extends to the new queer who joins their posse. That arc is refreshingly complex and really shows off how good and authentic a person Sideways is despite the jagged edges. Clarke effortlessly navigates liminal spaces within queerness, especially when it comes to history and finding community. It’s so compassionate, and one of the book’s triumphs.

The lesbian witches who are gay are back and more magical than ever.
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A huge Thank You to The author, The publisher and NetGalley for providing the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Oh My. An all time favorite for me from now on!
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I was SO EXCITED for this sequel, and I’m so happy I got to read it as an arc! Revisiting these these characters and this setting was so so perfect for spooky season! Absolutely loved it!
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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an Honest review. 
I read the Scapegracers earlier this year and loved it. It was the queer witchy book I'd been wanting. And The Scratch Daughters is an absolutely fantastic sequel. This picks up soon after the events of The Scapegracers, and what plot there is focuses on trying to get Sideways specter back. However this is definitely a character focused book, (even more so than The Scapegracers). The entire coven of scapegracers are amazing well developed characters.  They are messy and flawed and so loyal and there for each other. A lot of this book was various characters exploring who they were and what their sexual and gender identity means for them. I wish we had more of the Scratch Daughters interacting with each other, but we got a lot of Mr Scratch which made up for it and the introduction of Shiloh as a main character was great. And very much looking forward to the third book.
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Clark follows up on their The Scapegracers book with another fantastic, creepy, queer witchy book about Sideways Pike and their coven. High school is hard.

 When last we'd met, Madeline had stolen Sideways' soul/specter, and Sideways is out for revenge. Mr. Scratch, a demon who formerly inhabited a spell grimoire has taken up residence in the space where  used to be. One of the witchhunters kids turns out to be an unlikely ally. But wait, Sideways is dealing with their own sexuality, gender identity and friendship/attraction with/to her covenmates.

4.4/5 Bring on Book 3!
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This is an amazing sequel to a true barn-burner of a first novel, though I would highly recommend re-acquainting yourself with 'Scapegracers' before diving into this one, if it's been a bit since you've read it (as it had for me). This book dives right back into the world and the amazing characters and doesn't really provide training wheels (which is no bad thing, in my book).
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This book was pure chaos and I loved every second of it. The Scratch Daughters picked up the story where the first one ended. The coven was stronger than the first book. They helped the girls while they were trying to get back Sideway's specter. I really loved the first book especially all four characters and their bond was amazing. I think in this book the author wrote the story more strongly. The character's voice was louder and I loved it. If you want a witchy queer book with strong friendships this book was for you.
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2022’s The Scratch Daughters is the second of H. A. Clarke’s Scapegracers series.  (More at other end of link)
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In a year where I have pretty much stopped enjoying YA, The Scratch Daughters is a standout book. I think I’d feel this way still, even if I had primarily liked most of the YA books I’ve been reading in the year, but, in 2022, this only makes it that much clearer just how good the Scapegracer books are.

This book pretty much picks up where the first book left off, just a few weeks on: Sideways’s spectre is still missing, and the Scapegracers are doing all they can to retrieve it (although not as much as Sideways starts to want). On top of this, they now run a kind of service for girls who need their help, hexing any boys or men who abuse them.

What I loved about The Scratch Daughters is pretty much the same as what I loved about The Scapegracers (and a little more tacked on). Namely, the central relationship between Sideways, Jing, Daisy and Yates. If you’ve ever wanted more books that feel like that quote from The Raven Cycle “Blue was a little in love with all of them”, then this is the series for you. You get it in part from the first book, but the feeling is so much more visceral in this one. This is a book predicated on Sideways’s love for these girls, and their love for Sideways.

This is also an intensely and obviously lesbian book. Yes, it’s also sapphic in the more general sense (none of the protagonists in this are straight!), but it’s also very lesbian, not least in Sideways’s constant use of the word (which, if you’ve read any of my other reviews, is a constant bugbear in YA lit for me). It’s hard to articulate just how lesbian this book feels: it’s in Sideways’s interactions with people, in their feelings about gender, in every little bit of this book and series. I think I can safely say I haven’t read a book that just gets the lesbian experience in this way before. (And, it’s not only Sideways in this respect. Although I will leave the other aspect for you to find out when you read!)

If there was anything I had to, not criticise, but point out as something I perhaps less enjoyed, it was that this one seems to have less drive in terms of plot than book one. It felt a little messy in that respect, more messy than the previous book. And, in part, I did like that messiness—it reflected Sideways themself—but also, as I said, there was a lack of drive really, until the end. This, alongside just a general lowering of ratings when I read books in series a few years apart, is probably what led to the 4 star rating over 5 stars. (Although given how I’ve felt about YA recently, 4 stars right now is pretty much equivalent to five.)

So, if you’re looking for a witchy read for this Halloween, or even just a fun, wild adventure to sink your teeth into, then let me recommend this series.
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THE SCRATCH DAUGHTERS explores friendship, found family, queer identity, and the corrosive nature of hate as Sideways and her coven try to track down Madeline and get Sideways' specter back.

The worldbuilding has three sides, mundane, magical, and creepy. The mundane bits include the specificity of place which grounds this in rural Ohio, Sideways’ dads and the antique shop, and the Scapegracers still going to school while all this is happening. A lot of the magical stuff is new-to-them hexes and some backstory on Mr. Scratch’s previous coven. The creepy is everything witchfinder and Chantry, including a fucking weird tour of their house. 

THE SCRATCH DAUGHTERS wraps up several things left hanging from THE SCAPEGRACERS, the most prominent of which are Madeline’s next moves and what she wanted with Sideways’ specter. THE SCAPEGRACERS was about coming together to do witch stuff, but they did so very suddenly and this time around the cracks are showing in complex ways. There’s a new storyline embedded which deals with gender stuff, but mostly it’s an extension of the same wild ride which began in the first book. It leaves several things for later, mostly having to do with the climactic ending and assumed fallout to come. Sideways is still the narrator, and the general tone and densely syllabic style has carried over from THE SCAPEGRACERS, harshened by the absence of her specter in ways which overlap with but are distinct from dysphoria. 

THE SCRATCH DAUGHTERS might make sense to someone who hadn’t read THE SCAPEGRACERS because much of the relevant backstory is quickly explained when its needed, but a lot of the worldbuilding related to witches was established in the first book and isn’t re-explained here. It’s fleshed out in some cool ways, but that might not be enough for someone completely new to the series. For that reason (and because this is the second of three books), I recommend starting with THE SCAPEGRACERS if you haven’t already.

The main goal and driving force in the narrative is the mission to get Sideways’ specter back from the person who stole it. To that end, driven by the jagged lack of a specter (made worse as that specter is used by its thief), Sideways makes impulsive move which stress out the other Scapegracers and highlight already-existing cracks between them. The various threads are handled well, mostly driven by Sideways’ inability to sit and wait when every moment is an agony they don’t know how to explain to their fellow witches. Sideways’ depression/dysphoria/whatever-you-call-it-when-your-soul-is-missing means that the mess of tensions with the other Scapegracers is so much that it’s numbing, paradoxically making it easier for me to handle as a reader since a lot of the emotional churning is happening between the other three, and Sideways gets bits and pieces of it sporadically.

Read THE SCRATCH DAUGHTERS to get some midwestern teenage lesbian witch fuckery and revenge in your life.
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Scapegracers was one of my favorite books of 2020, I handsold a bajilliok copies of it while I was still at Bn, I’ve been EAGERLY awaiting this one so when I got a chance to read an arc I jumped and it did not disappoint. The writing style and character voice is so absolutely off the wall bonkers it makes me want to be a better writer because there should be more books like this.

This is a trilogy, right? Because this ended pretty happily, and I’m not ready to part with my feral kiddos and their polite inkblot just yet 🥺
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I loved The Scapegracers, and this book took everything great about that one to the next level. The Scapegracers' relationships get more complicated, Sideways makes some new friends and self-discoveries, and the plot is engrossing from the first page to the last. It seems like Clarke learned a lot from their first novel and used that knowledge to make their second even better. And if the romantic plot is going where I think it is, these books will easily become one of my favorite YA series ever.

Also I definitely thought this was going to be a duology, but I'm so ready for book three.
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This is a sequel to The Scapegracers, and it is very very sequel--I strongly recommend that you read the first volume first, because a lot of the plot and character arc are directly dependent on its events.

One of the things I loved about the first book that was kept here--and even to some extent expanded—was how clearly Clarke respects teenage girls and their friendships for who and what they are--not trying to make them into adults in order to give them respect but looking at this particular stage of human life with love. In this book there are nonbinary teens in this category as well, and Clarke is scrupulous never to deadname a character who changes their name in the middle of the book, which is just lovely.

The friendships themselves are not entirely smooth sailing, as you might expect for any high school novel to begin with, but certainly for one about a coven, particularly a coven whose pet book demon is in rather unusual living quarters at the moment. The titular daughters of Scratch--who were also the titular
Scapegracers of the last book--are making their presence felt around town, putting spells on violent people (especially boys and men) to make sure they can’t hurt people (especially teenage girls). And that kind of behavior is never without pushback.

One of the things that I found particularly interesting and well-done in this book is that sexuality can be a motivation without the motivation being “and then I want to have sex with this person.” Coming out stories are important, and stories where people’s sexuality just is are important, but this is neither of those things, this is a story where sexuality as distinct from sex is a plot motivator, and I don’t see that
nearly as often as I’d like.

The kids make the kind of trash decisions that teenagers are prone to, and the adults around them make the kind of trash decisions that adult are prone to—but in neither case is it universal. There are always people in both groups who shine as examples of how to human in tough circumstances, some of them in tweed blazers and some in shimmery lip gloss. And some trying out both.

How I feel about the ending depends on whether this is the last book or whether there will be another. As it stands, the ending felt a bit abrupt to me, and a bit too easily tied up in a bow. If it’s just the end of this volume, okay fine; if this is all we get in this series, ehhhh I wish there was a bit more denouement.
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What a spectacular follow up this is. It not only lived up to my expectations but far exceeded them. It was truly such an emotional experience to see Sideways’ growth and how they have begun to settle into their identity. Also Mr. Scratch is such a delight. The wait for this book was so worth it and fans of the first book are gonna be so pleased. All the stars! I adore this series so much and can’t wait for book 3.
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I know I was going through some personal shit when I read the first book, so I'm fully blaming that for why I did not rate it 5 stars, it's the only explainable reason. Because I absolutely adored this book and the characters. Seriously, I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a while (quite a sad thing, really). I was angry when the book ended. I NEED MORE. Also, who do I need to bribe to make this a tv show? (though, not sure I'd trust any of the streaming services to do this book series justice).

So, where's book 3?

PS: I'm totally going to reread this series when it's fully finished.
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Words cannot describe how much I absolutely adore this book. I just finished it. Im sobbing cause I feel so, so happy but also sad because I don't know if there's going to be another book. The characters are so lovable and relatable, and the descriptions are so vivid. I loved the first book and I love this sequel even more. This story of a coven of queer
witches hexing the men who wrong them will be a book I will recommend till I die. Please, if you haven't already, check out The Scapegracers. You won't be disappointed.
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Characters: 10 | Atmosphere: 9 | Writing: 9 | Plot: 8 | Intrigue: 10 | Logic: 8 | Enjoyment: 9
Total: 9.00

While this book took some time to find its footing, once it did, things took off in a really fantastic way. I loved the way Clarke's characters grew and learned, while still continuing the plot and keeping things interesting. The backstory that we received made sense and was intriguing, while still keeping that feral rawness of the first book. This was an exceptional sequel and I can't wait to read more from Clarke.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Erewhorn Books for providing me with a free eBook version of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

WOW! This book was everything I wanted and then some. 

The first book in this series amazed me in the best ways. Magical teens fiercely protecting one another and hexing boys who had it coming. 

If you haven't read the first book, Scapegracers I highly recommend you do so, as this book takes place mere months after and deals with the aftermath of the first books occurrences. 

Sideways wanted their spector back, makes a new queer friend, and embraces their butchness even more. 

‘Not a single damn Scapegracer was het. Anyway.’ 

Also, this book is SOOOO GAAAAAY. Full of gay panic, questioning gender, ‘do I even like boys’ GAAAAAY. And I loved it.  Sideways refers to themselves as a lesbian about 8 times. So thats a big middle finger salute to all those sapphic books where the lesbian refuses to call themselves such. 

The plot pretty much stumbles along (in a good way) with the mess of lesbain highschool drama. I think the characters really shine and I love seeing friendships grow and learn. Give me a sappy ‘I’ll kill for you’ witchy book any day. 

It’s chaotic, it’s messy, it’s queer, it’s magic. What more do you need?

How I rate books
1- I disliked this book very much. Highly unlikely to read this author again
2- Eh. I didn't hate it. Might give the author another go
3- It was fun
4- Amazing and would read again
5- I'm in love. Give me more right now!
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A strong sequel. I have been eagerly anticipating this one from the moment I finished The Scapegracers and was left to wait a year to see how Sideways and her coven would deal with the disastrous events at the end of the first book. This one had much more momentum and was more action-oriented vs, the more character-centered nature of the first volume—I would say this is the only reason I prefer the first as I'm a sucker for characters and relationships and only care so much about plot. We meet an interesting "new" character in this one and there is a focus on exploring gender and sexuality that added another layer of complexity to the friendship dynamic that is the heart of the series (duology? not sure if there will be more in this universe). I wish some of the relationship elements had been fleshed out a little more but overall I enjoyed the hell out of this and I look forward to everything Clarke will be publishing in the future.
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