Raising Hell – Bryony Pearce

“It was the goths you had to watch out for.”

Four years ago something impossible happened: magic started working. All of those Latin incantations – used as graffiti or song lyrics or anything – suddenly actually worked. Only for teenagers, though, and only in the UK. Once you get a few miles offshore, it all fades. Why? Well, because you have to be in range of the rift…

Ivy Mann makes her living fighting magic. She works as anti-magic security in a high school, stopping teenagers sneaking copies of Necronomicon onto school property, or wielding her machete, Matilda, against any hell hounds they manage to raise. It’s a living. At least, until she has the day from pretty much literal hell!

Zombies, ghosts, spells and incantations, there’s no time to catch your breath as Ivy struggles to keep some teenagers alive, make up for her past sins, and perhaps catch up with a few faces from the past. All the while wielding her trusty Matilda!

There’s a lot to like about this book, and I enjoyed the read. As our PoV character, Ivy has a brilliant sense of humour, eg:

I know what you are thinking, but I’m not half faery, or demon, or angel or anything like that. Mum’s a Body Shop consultant living in a bungalow in Birmingham and Dad enters crosswords.”

She also has a thumping sense of guilt, over something she and her friends did – something that will be revealed over the course of the book. Of course it ties in strongly with the events of the ‘now’, and the two sides of the story really boost each other.

On the less great side, I wasn’t wholly sure about the tone. It’s got ‘YA’ written all over it, with a cast of teens and indeed, young adults. Maybe I’m just not giving the ‘youth’ enough credit, but I wasn’t expecting quite the level of gore (not that it’s too graphic, but there is a lot of it) or the harsh topics including murder, suicide, other death, and abandonment. It never quite sat comfortably for me alongside the talking cat.

That said, I still enjoyed it. The pace doesn’t let up – the events happen over at most a day or two – and if anything, the book is a little on the short side. I’d love to have delved a little more into this altered world, ours with a recent addition of teenage magic – so I’m rather pleased that there are hints at the end that there could be more stories from Ivy Mann.

NetGalley eARC: 240 pages / 23 chapters
First published: 2021
Series: none (so far? Here’s hoping!)
Read from 23rd-31st May 2021

My rating: 7/10

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