I’m a sucker for magical girl stories, as I’ve stated before. Whether it’s a group of girls with magical powers saving the world or just making spellbinding shenanigans, I’m all for it. I was delighted in that case to happen across When We Were Magic, even if the material seemed a little heavy for my mental state at the time. Nevertheless, it was a good Halloween pick, so off I read.
Alexis and her five best friends, Paulie, Roya, Marceline, Ivy, and Maryam, are all witches. They do not know where their magic came from, but they have honed their special skills over the years. But everything changes when Alexis accidentally kills their classmate Josh with some uncontrolled magic. The girls have to figure out what happened and how they can fix things before someone discovers their secret.
The entire story belongs to the six main girls. It’s not a story about them saving the world and working against a singular antagonist, but rather working against time, and, in some cases, against each other.
The girls’ friendships feel strong and are engaging to read. Each girl has a different magical ability and personality, allowing for them to become etched into your memory over time.
One thing did not quite gel with me, though.
It becomes apparent that Alexis killed Josh because she has blood magic, which, if left unchecked, can cause people around her to bleed. That’s a pretty dark revelation, but it does not get much attention. Unless there is a sequel to this book, that aspect needed more explanation and gravity. After all, Alexis more or less has the ability to kill people if she is not careful, and yet, the girls pass it off as some funny new discovery. Like, “Huh, who’d have thought I’d have been blood magic of all things? Isn’t that all hunky-dory?”
I’m also kind of torn on the tone of the ending.
I won’t give anything away, obviously, but the gravity of the book’s central conflict almost should have led to something darker. I’m overall satisfied, but it struck me as odd that the author chose the ending they did.
Still, it is an overall satisfying read, even if not everything gels perfectly. It satiated my need for a good witch story this Halloween season. It may especially satiate you if you’re looking for some girl-on-girl romance, just to quickly add.