Hyperion/Disney, 2017 362 pages
Prosper Redding is the underachiever in his superstar family, all of whom are great successes, financial and otherwise. On a town-wide celebration day Prosper notices the family acting suspiciously. When his grandmother traps him in a room and comes after him with a knife, he knows for sure something is up. Rescue arrives in the form of a long-lost uncle, who takes him to his Salem home, where he meets his previously unknown cousin, Nell. Prosper is shocked to discover that an ancestor contracted with a demon during colonial times and this is the cause of the family's success. Making matters worse, this demon is awakening inside of Prosper and begins to grow stronger every day. Prosper must lay low in order that his grandmother does not locate him, as he wrestles with the inner demon, who is growing in strength and power. Meanwhile, Nell, who is an amateur witch, is working to banish the demon from Prosper and send him back underground where he belongs. As the demon fights for control and power, Prosper must resist signing into a contract out of desperation and greed with his capture and save himself and those that he loves.
Alexander Bracken, best known for her teen fiction, including the Darkest Minds series, which is optioned by Fox to be made into a movie, turns her talents to middle grade. This dark fantasy encompasses early colonial witchcraft days, which is perennially popular. A bit edgier than traditional fantasy for this age group, Bracken manages to infuse humor into the story line. The action never stops and readers will want to keep turning pages. Some surprises are in store as the story progresses and it gets really cool at the end, which then leads readers to a cliff-hanger, encouraging them to read the next installment in the series, which is yet to be released. Prosper is a humble character with talents, yet no confidence, to whom readers will relate and care about. It will be easy for young people to experience what it would be like living with a demon inside right along with Prosper. Interesting magical creatures are introduced that will spark the imagination. This new series has a lot of heart and will appeal to both boys and girls who like their magic a little dark, yet also enjoy a good laugh.