Children have been disappearing in London, but Cassie Morgan is more concerned with trying to be invisible at her boarding school, where she has attracted the ire of school bullies and, as a consequence, is a social pariah to her peers. Cassie copes with her solitude by retreating into a world of reading, yearning for the day when her mother will come for her. This hope is shattered when the callous school head mistress announces that Cassie's mother has officially been declared dead, which prompts the girl to run away rather than be despatched to an institution.

The sense of menace that pervades Cassie's daily experiences becomes more urgent when she is pursued and almost caught by a gang of goblins. A nearby cat with an aptitude for arch observations urges Cassie into her inaugural broomstick flight, bringing her to safety in Hedgely, a border land to the Faery world in which she learns she has an aunt who is the Hedgewitch, the most senior witch. Witches are part of the local community which they protect with their magic. Cassie begins to learn witchcraft and determines to find her mother, — also a witch — refusing to believe she is dead. 

McKenna is skilled at creating atmosphere: Cassie’s alienation at school, the eeriness of the Hedge wood, the camaraderie and tensions within the Coven. There are episodes of conventional hero-quest narrative arcs but one of the strengths of this book is the adroitly delicate allusions to difficult topics: poverty, abuse, child vulnerability.  

Hedgewitch Cover Image
Publication Date
April 2022