Song Pairing: “Pink Youth” by Yuna & Little Simz Listen Here / 2019 HELLO YELLOW REVIEWS PLAYLIST (Spotify) – Listen Here / 2019 HELLO YELLOW REVIEWS Playlist (Apple)
Alright, you got me. I didn’t realize that Kate Williams was writing a book just to prank me and all my 1990’s sisters, but here it is. So I hear you watched The Craft, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the original Babysitters Club growing up? Let’s just throw all that shit together into a tongue-in-cheek smoothie, and out pops The Babysitters Coven.
This book is wild. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started it, and I’m not sure what I read after I finished it. I think I liked it. In fact, reflecting on it for this review, I’m almost positive I liked it. But that could be one of the Sitters casting a spell.
Here’s the gist: Esme is a stereotypical I’m-a-regular-girl girl. Her and her best friend Janis go through an exhausting amount of effort dressing for school everyday in their thrift-store outfits. The preposterous amount of time that Williams spends describing their style is perplexing, but I might have related to that were I still in high school.
Esme turns seventeen and develops powers. The new girl, Cassandra, catches her using those powers in gym. The big reveal is that Cassandra also has powers. They’re both part of a sacred secret inheritance passed down through the generations of women in their family. They’re Sitters–they literally babysit the Hellmouth (I mean the Portal) in the “Definite” (our world) that leaks monsters from the “Negative” (the demon plane) into Sunnydale. I mean, Spring River. Whatever, it’s just Buffy, and the characters acknowledge as much.
Of course, The Babysitters Coven goes a lot less hard than Buffy ever went. Their “Watcher” equivalent is a gym teacher named Brian who forgets to train the girls because football season is especially time-consuming this year. The spells they use to manipulate the world around them require treasures to cast—and these treasures are laughably the cutest part of the whole book. Their final boss spell requires: a “do not disturb” sign, a rose quartz crystal, a playbill from Wicked, cinnamon sticks, a clementine, seven hot-pink plastic army men, a dried-up wrist corsage, and a cucumber vape cartridge.
This book had me clutching my face in laughter and embarrassment. I’m not sure if it’s so silly that it’s frivolous (Esme casts a spell on her flatulent dog so that she can speak, but spends more time commenting on the dog’s stench) or so silly that it’s perfect (one of the characters gets stuck in the Negative, but talks to Esme through a Magic 8-Ball, one glowing triangle word at a time.)
Big thanks to NetGalley for a pre-pub copy in exchange for an honest review.