Mark of the Wicked
by Georgia Bowers
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 10th 2021
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A young witch tries to unravel the mystery of who is framing her for dark magic in Georgia Bowers’ creepy YA debut fantasy, Mark of the Wicked.
Magic always leaves its mark.
All her life, Matilda has been told one thing about her magic: You use only when necessary. But Matilda isn’t interested in being a good witch. She wants revenge and popularity, and to live her life free of consequences, free of the scars that dark magic leaves on her face as a reminder of her misdeeds.
When a spell goes awry and the new boy at school catches her in the act, Matilda thinks her secret might be out. But far from being afraid, Oliver already knows about her magic – and he wants to learn more. As Oliver and Matilda grow closer, bizarre things begin to happen: Animals show up with their throats slashed and odd markings carved into their bodies, a young girl dies mysteriously, and everyone blames Matilda. But she isn’t responsible — at least, not that she can remember. As her magic begins to spin out of control, Matilda must decide for herself what makes a good witch, and discover the truth…before anyone else turns up dead.
Matilda rolled her eyes. Why would she waste her time with magic to help people who ignore her when she could watch them slowly lose their hair instead? Matilda smirked at the memory of Lauren McFadden freaking out as she brushed out clumps of hair in front of the mirror at school.
“For goodness’ sake, Matilda, are you even listening to me? How many times?” Her mother opened a cabinet and picked out a small green bottle, then leaned over the sink and yanked leaves from the small pots collected on the windowsill, her anger punctuating the lecture with each plucked herb. “How many times do I have to go over this with you? You don’t use death in magic. Whether it’s a human or a horsefly, we respect life in our magic. You’d understand that so much more if you were part of a coven. You’re nearly seventeen . . .”
“I didn’t kill anything. Technically. It’s still alive,” said Matilda quickly, steering her mother away from that conversation about joining a coven. Again.
“And what is it this time?” said Lottie, grinding the leaves under a giant worn marble. “Lead in the school play? Time for a new best friend? Did someone dare to copy your haircut? What petty thing could possibly warrant you distressing those creatures in the middle of the autumn? It’s a very simple rule: Never use magic to hurt another, physically or mentally, unless you want the name of your victim scarred on your face.”
“But we can hide our scars.” Matilda shrugged. “So why not have some fun with our magic?”
For the last three years, Matilda had been collecting the names of those she’d hurt with her magic like it was a hobby. It was fun coming up with creative ways to inflict pain or bring misfortune to her enemies, or just being popular for a few weeks. Unlike other witches, Matilda could do bad but keep the slate clean. Clean in the eyes of others, anyway.
Lottie pursed her lips and shook her head.
“This is exactly why you’re not old enough for that spell.” Matilda’s shoulders slumped, ready for the weekly lecture. “Our bloodline was blessed with the gift to conceal our scars so we could move freely without judgment in a changing world, to give witches a second chance, not so you can use magic to curse your classmates on every whim. Your father had no right give you that spell; you’re clearly not mature enough for it.”
“Nice to know what you think of me,” said Matilda, folding her arms.
“You give me no choice to think anything else! It’s all about balance; you do good, the universe sees that; you do bad, it’s written on your face, whether we can see it or not.”
Matilda felt like banging her head against the table. From the moment she was aware that Ferly Cottage was a home full of spells and incantations, she had been taught the rules her ancestors lived by and that she was expected to respect and embrace those rules on her own path. The first rule was simple: Use magic to cause pain or control the free will of another, and you’ll get the name of your victim seared across your skin. Use magic to help others, to further your understanding of the craft, to keep maintaining the balance, and no harm will come to you.
But why have access to an ancient spell that meant every time you did use magic to hurt someone else, you could just erase the consequence from your face? Matilda didn’t understand it. Why have the spell if it wasn’t meant to be used?
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Georgia Bowers lives in Bedford, a small market town in England. When it was time to decide what to do with her life, she was obsessed with two things: books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seemed sensible to follow in the brogued footsteps of Rupert Giles, so she became a librarian, though sadly not the demon fighting kind. But there’s still time. Ever since her mum told her that witches used to meet in the woods near their village, she’s been obsessed with witchcraft and the paranormal. When she was a teenager, a weekly habit of Point Horrors satisfied her thirst for chilling tales before she moved on to reading Stephen King. These days she likes to give her nerves a break every now and then with a good YA romance. After completing a course in writing YA fiction she was a winner in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Undiscovered Voices. Since then she has dabbled with stories of chosen ones and ghostly best friends until she conjured up the magical ingredients for her debut novel, Mark Of The Wicked. Author links: https://www.georgia-bowers.com/ https://www.instagram.com/georgiabowersya/ https://www.facebook.com/georgiabowersauthor https://twitter.com/georgia_bowers