Southern Fried Wiccan grabbed my attention with its gorgeous cover and witty title. What happened after that was more personal than I could have imagined. So fair warning that this review is a little personal, but I truly loved this book and wanted to share my thoughts as accurately as possible.
Summary from Goodreads:
Cilla Swaney is thrilled to return stateside, where she can hang up her military-brat boots for good. Finally, she’ll be free to explore her own interests—magick and Wicca. But when she arrives at her grandma’s farm, Cilla discovers that life in the South isn’t quite what she expected. At least while country hopping, she never had to drink G-ma’s crazy fermented concoctions, attend church youth group, make co-op deliveries…or share her locker with a snake-loving, fire-lighting, grimoire-stealing Goth girl… …Who later invites her to a coven that Cilla’s not sure she has the guts to attend. But then Emilio, the dark-haired hottie from her charter school, shows up and awakens her inner
goddess. Finally, Cilla starts believing in her ability to conjure magick. Until……All Hades breaks loose. A prank goes wrong during their high school production of Macbeth, and although it seems Emilio is to blame, Cilla and Goth pay the price. Will Cilla be able to keep the boy, her coven, and the trust of her family? Or will this Southern Wiccan get battered and fried?
Ok, so where to start. Just to clear some preconceived notions that many readers seemed to have is that this is NOT a YA Fantasy or YA Paranormal story – just a ordinary, YA Contemporary slice of life. Lately, my shelves have been filled with a lot of fantasy and paranormal, so it was relaxing to take a break from saving the world and just read about an average teenager with average problems.
In a nutshell, this is a story of a teenage girl exploring her own spiritual path while also trying to fit in at school and appease her relatives. Oh dear, doesn’t that sound familiar! I’ve gone through this very thing in my teenage years. For those of you who are new to this blog and don’t know, I am a Pagan who mixes eclectic Wicca and Kemetic Orthodoxy. When I was around 13 or 14 years old, I immersed myself in Wicca while living in a small, Right-Wing Christian town. Needless to say, things got rough now and then, but I’m all the better for it.
That is why I connected with Cilla on so many levels. She was struggling to balance her personal and spiritual life in an environment that wasn’t always understanding. She is lucky enough to join a Coven with a High Priestess that is wise, caring and inclusive. Let me tell you how much I wished for that when I was first finding my path! What I loved the most about this story was the lesson that religions, traditions and practices can all coexist peacefully, and there’s nothing wrong with pursuing your own path while also respecting those around you. Just because you’re a Wiccan (for example) doesn’t mean you can’t go to church with your family on Sundays. There are many paths to the Divine.
On to the characters! Now most of the supporting cast was very trope-y: the Jock, the Goth, the Queen Bee etc. But the author used these labels as part of the narration. Cilla is used to jumping from school to school and she automatically labels everyone (her coping mechanism). Throughout the story, she learns that people are so much more than a label, and who they are inside can be surprising, for good or worse. Hands down, my favorite character was Mother Faith. She inspired images of the ideal Mother Goddess High Priestess, guiding young witches without judgement or ill-intent. Every scene with her was inspiring and insightful – she’s the kind of person that you would want to chat with over coffee and easily lose track of time.
My only criticisms are in regards to the length of the novel and the cover. I feel like it might have been suited to be a bit longer than 161 pages, however the entire story takes place over two months so it’s understandable. I would have liked more time to get to know the supporting characters (like Emilio, for example) and to develop the characters’ relationships. Maybe we’ll get a sequel? Concerning the cover – don’t get me wrong its BEAUTIFUL cover, it just doesn’t really seem to match the story. It definitely grabs the attention to readers like its supposed to, but the fantastical witch character it portrays doesn’t exist within the pages.
All in all, I really loved this book and I truly appreciated how realistically Wicca and Wiccan practices / beliefs were portrayed. It’s not often that a book makes me reflect on my younger years and I’ll be holding on to the warm fuzzy nostalgic feeling in the days to come.