March 06, 2023


By Catherine Bakewell
Review by
This romantic fantasy about a girl who must master her unruly magic to save her father’s life is peppered with moments of comfort, self-reflection and joy.
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Clara dreams of becoming a Council-certified witch, but her magic is strange and unpredictable—so much so that a simple touch accidentally curses her father, making poisonous flowers grow inside his body. Desperate to save him, Clara turns to Xavier Morwyn, a talented Councilmember who was once her best friend. The two rekindle their connection as they work toward a cure, but as Clara learns about her old friend and her own magic, she also uncovers a dark secret plaguing the land. There could be more to Clara’s past—and to Xavier—than even Clara herself realizes. 

Flowerheart, the first YA fantasy novel from author Catherine Bakewell (We Are the Song), is a romantic mystery, its plot propelled by the questions Clara must answer: What is the unknown potion wreaking havoc across the country, and how is it connected to Clara’s estranged mother? Why, after avoiding her for years, is Xavier agreeing to help her now, and should she trust him?

Bakewell’s vision of magic is unique and effective. Instead of existing as a static source of energy, magic in Flowerheart is almost a sentient force, a character with its own will, motivations and personality. As the book opens, it plays a villainous role, actively working against Clara’s wishes and goals. Eventually, it becomes both an ally and a clear reflection of Clara’s psyche. The ability to perform magic stems from emotion and intention, enabling Bakewell to draw parallels between Clara’s struggles with anxiety and self-image and the difficulties she experiences with her magic.

Although it’s filled with danger and darkness, Flowerheart maintains an incredibly cozy atmosphere. Clara’s magic often manifests in flowers whose symbolic meanings reflect her true feelings, she and Xavier create potions using natural ingredients and imbued with good intentions, and many characters connect through the sharing of food. Peppered with moving moments of comfort, self-reflection and joy, Flowerheart is an intimate, charming read. 

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By Catherine Bakewell
ISBN 9780063214590

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