"Two girls with nothing in common - find they have a lot in common"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted August 16, 2013
Gay / Lesbian Paranormal | Gay / Lesbian
This high-school girl story contains a lot of classroom
terms, so get ready for someone mentally facepalming
herself, an emo girl from Loserville, and whatevs. If you
can read through that and see the characters behind the
talk, you'll find the nub of the story. Brynn loves music
and studies hard, intending to escape the claustrophobic
school atmosphere as soon as she can. She's got pink hair
and multiple-pierced ears, one friend, no designer labels
and no desire to be popular. Cassidy is the popular girl,
blonde hair, expensive clothes and arrogant attitude to the
fore, with eager jocks following her around. The two girls
never speak if either of them can help it.
THAT WITCH is a part of herself that Cassidy keeps firmly
hidden, an inheritance that she has no intention of using.
California has plenty of weird people, and she has no wish
to be one. But the class teacher pairs her with Brynn for
an ongoing literature project, to their dismay. Brynn's
mother doesn't believe she's going to Cassidy's house,
while both girls shamefacedly alter their dress style to
make the other feel more comfortable. They discover that
they're both into Steinbeck, but that's not all they have
in common. Both girls are gay, and keep the closet door
firmly shut. As the story moves on LGBT issues are
discussed, and prejudices aired, but even without that
dimension there are problems because Brynn's friend Laura
now accuses Brynn of never sitting with her anymore and
wanting to be friends with cheerleaders.
The witchcraft is actually a red herring because no serious
witchcrafting occurs, though changes do. But the advantage
is that Cassidy's family are prepared for and accepting of
unconventional lifestyles. While Cassidy often feels that
she could just explode with the tingling power that fills
her when she's angry, she's responsible enough to restrain
it and deal with the problem in an appropriate way.
Zoe Lynne is a pen name for an author already successful in
adult romance, who wants to give young people characters
and stories they can relate to and support young LGBT
adults. THAT WITCH is a good introduction to her stories
and all sorts of girls will find it an entertaining read.
Cassidy Ryan and Brynn Michaels attend the same high school,
but they live in different worlds. Cassidy’s a popular
cheerleader, and Brynn’s the social leper. One is all
sunshine and rainbows, while the other could’ve been carved
from an Edgar Allan Poe book.
Both girls have their problems, though. Cassidy is coming
into her birthright—a long line of ancient magic Cassidy
isn’t ready to have. Brynn is coming into her sexuality—
something that will definitely cause problems with her very
When a teacher assigns Cassidy and Brynn to work together on
a project, the girls find themselves in a heap of trouble,
because what they feel for each other can’t be denied. If
they have any hope of changing ignorant and frightened
minds, they’ll have to listen to their own hearts first.
JEEZ, Brynn just wanted to hide in her corner of the
lunchroom, away from the preppy-populars and the nerd-herds,
the drama club geeks and the overachievers, and listen to
the new Donnas album while she crammed for her calculus
exam. But nooooo, her BFF, Miss-Nancy-Drew-Wannabe, kept
nudging her arm every five minutes just to point out
something Brynn really had, like, zero interest in. She
played along, though, peeking through the cotton-candy-pink
bangs covering her face to see what Laura wanted. This time
it was Cassidy Rivers, and the queen of the in-crowd looked
like she was on the prowl, with her bleached blonde clones
loyally in tow, as always.
Brynn rolled her eyes and buried her head back in her book.
She didn’t care about Cassidy. The chick didn’t even hit
Brynn’s radar, well… except for the fact she was probably
the most gorgeous girl Brynn had ever seen. She had these
startling steel-blue eyes and pouty pink lips, bright blonde
hair that was obviously really hers because her perfectly
shaped brows were about the same shade of blonde. Her cheeks
were rosy and round, and when she smiled, the cutest dimples
formed at the edges of her mouth.
Brynn mentally facepalmed herself. Was she seriously
admiring Cassidy Rivers—of all freakin’ people?
Maybe on some level she would’ve liked to have been accepted
by Cassidy and the in-crowd. Those kids lived in the nicest
houses and had the best cars. They shopped in all the swanky
Majestic Hills shops, wore designer everything, and had the
best life had to offer. Brynn had the means to fit in. She
came from money like the rest of them, but those shops
didn’t appeal to her. Name brands didn’t mean anything
either. Her favorite boots came from an army thrift store.
She listened to bands like My Chemical Romance and The Used,
not Bruno Mars and Britney Spears. Still, it would’ve been
nice to fit in, but there was no way she would admit that to
anyone. No, it was totally more hardcore to pretend the
preppy-popular kids were a vapid waste of space, and she
could do soooo much better… with her one friend.
One earbud plopped out of her ear and landed in the crease
of her book. Laura had her finger hooked around the white
cord. The noise from the lunchroom chatter and the object
falling in the line of her sight distracted her. Brynn hated
being distracted when she was focused on something
important, like making the grades she needed to get into the
college of her dreams. She turned her eyes up to Laura who
sat beside her, purple ponytail high on her head,
black-lined, brown-eyed stare set on Cassidy and the pom-pom
“Beware, she’s headed this way,” Laura said.
“Why do I need to beware?” Brynn mumbled as she stuck her
earbud back in her left ear. The music was low enough she
could still hear Laura without missing out on track five,
which would totally go onto a playlist when Brynn got home
and could sync her iPod. “She never stops at our table.
We’re so not on her radar.”
“Don’t sound so disappointed,” Laura teased.
“Who said I was disappointed? I kinda like it.” Brynn looked
up and tilted her head, considering what would happen if
Cassidy Rivers actually noticed her existence.
Hmm… probably nothing.
They both watched as Cassidy I’m-destined-to-be-prom-queen
Rivers swished on by their table, her bleach-bottle-blonde
besties flanking both sides. A few of the brain-dead jocks
that always followed them around fell in behind the three
girls. It was so tragically cliché and so After School Special.
Brynn couldn’t stand it, or so she kept telling herself.
Keep on walking, girl. Keep on walking, she thought as
Cassidy and her clique rounded the edge of the table. Brynn
pulled in a deep breath, kept her head low, and only watched
them through the part in her pink, chin-length,
straight-as-a-freakin’-board hair. She reached up and tugged
at one of the six silver loops hanging from either ear—a
nervous habit she’d recently developed—and casually kept her
black-lined eyes fixed on Cassidy.
A white cashmere sweater clung to Cassidy’s slight curves
and met at the pink skirt hugging her waist and thighs. The
skirt stopped just above the knee, and below that was a pair
of white, high-heeled boots that reached all the way up past
her calves. The outfit had to be designer. It had that
classy look to it. But what really caught Brynn’s eye was
the golden pendant hanging from Cassidy’s neck. It looked
Celtic—a knot of some sort—with lots of loops and weaves.
Brynn had seen something like it before in one of her cool
Gothic jewelry catalogs, but the one around Cassidy’s neck
didn’t look like a cheap knockoff. It looked like the real
deal—maybe priceless, maybe even antique. It definitely gave
Miss Better-Than-Everyone-Else a depth she didn’t have before.
Cassidy and crew kept walking but not without smirking down
at Brynn like she was the scum of the earth. Something
wicked flickered in that girl’s big blue-gray eyes,
something mean and totally deceiving to the rest of the
world—the ones who believed Cassidy was as innocent as the
Virgin Mary or something.
“Looks like we got lucky again,” Laura whispered as soon as
the in-crowd cleared the table.
Brynn finally exhaled, little strands of pink hair
fluttering in the breeze. Yeah, they got lucky again, but
they always got lucky. They were such an insignificant blip
Cassidy didn’t even bother, not like the poor nerd-herd the
jocks loved to bully three tables back.
Something stupid and curious came over Brynn. For some dumb
reason, she glanced over her shoulder to see what they were
doing. The jocks were hovering over the nerds. Cassidy and
the blonde squad worked their way over to the table where
the cheerleaders and the other popular kids always sat, but
for some messed-up reason, Cassidy kept watching her. If
Brynn didn’t turn around now and mind her own business, she
knew she would be on the receiving end of some snarky
comment, and honestly, Brynn would rather study calculus
than get into a battle of wits with the unarmed.
“Why is she staring at us?” Laura asked.
“I don’t know.” Brynn turned back to her book. “Just don’t
look at her, and maybe she’ll forget we exist.”
“Hey, it’s worked for two years, hasn’t it? I mean like,
we’re seniors now, and we haven’t been bullied by her or her
friends. She doesn’t even waste her time with us. So, let’s
just keep doing what we’ve been doing and pretend she
doesn’t exist either.”
“Right,” Laura said as she looked down at her lunch tray and
the massive helping of beef surprise that had started out as
meatloaf at the beginning of the week.
Jeez, Brynn didn’t see how Laura could eat that crap. It
smelled like something died on a plate, and the lovely Lunch
Lady Brigade couldn’t wait to serve that slop up to the
unsuspecting masses. She cringed and began gathering up her
books, then grabbed her backpack from the chair beside her.
Brynn tucked her iPod into the pocket of her black hoodie
and said to Laura, “See you in sixth period.”
“Yeah. Totally. Good luck on the exam.”
“Thanks,” Brynn muttered before heading out of the cafeteria.
She wandered down the nearly empty hallway, past all the
bright red lockers, platform boots thumping against the
white linoleum. The bell hadn’t rung yet, so most of the
other students were still in their classes or hanging out in
the cafeteria. Brynn liked the halls like that. She didn’t
have to push through the crowds, didn’t have to fight her
way through the cliquey circles just to get to her locker.
She could take her time and just… chill.
Brynn hugged her black hoodie tight around her body as she
headed up the stairwell to the second floor. The Donnas’
latest album played from her iPod and spilled some of her
favorite music into her ears. She’d made it all the way to
track eleven, and it would probably end right before she
made it to her class.
She thought about Cassidy, about how mean and snarky the
girl could be. Brynn wondered if that was the real Cassidy
or just a show she put on to be the popular girl, because
being part of the in-crowd came with certain
responsibilities—which apparently included walking all over
everyone else in the school. Whatever. It wouldn’t matter
much longer. They had one semester left before they
graduated. She would go off to college, and Cassidy would…
do something with her empty, narcissistic life. Not that
Brynn cared what Cassidy did after high school.
Or wait, did she?
The bell rang just as Brynn hit the second floor. Doors
opened. Chatter filled the halls. People came barreling by
as they went to their lockers. Brynn dropped her backpack
off at hers. She tucked everything away in the cramped metal
locker, then slammed the door and twisted the knob to lock
it back into place. Just as she spun on her two-inch
platform heels, she came face-to-face with the one person in
the entire school she’d done a real good job of avoiding.
“Why were you staring at me, freak?” Cassidy all but spat at
Brynn—manicured brows arched, arms crossed over her chest,
perfect pink nails tapping against her upper arms.
“I… um…,” Brynn stuttered, hugging herself a little tighter.
“‘I… um…’ what? Did you see something you like?”
“Your necklace,” Brynn blurted for God only knew what reason.
Cassidy laid her palm over the golden knot, but she didn’t
look away from Brynn, didn’t look any less put off by
Brynn’s presence. Her pink lips pursed, but she didn’t say a
word. In fact, neither of them said anything. They just kept
staring at each other because apparently, neither of them
knew how to speak anymore.
“Well,” Cassidy finally said, nostrils flaring, upper lip
curling in disgust, “maybe you should find something else to
ogle, because I don’t appreciate being the object of your
And with those last biting words, Cassidy pushed by Brynn
with so much force it made her stumble to the side. Brynn
swung back around, glaring at the back of Cassidy’s body as
she sauntered over toward her clique.
“You don’t have to be so mean,” Brynn yelled across the way.
“I mean, I was going to tell you the necklace was neat…
that’s all, but really, it looks ridiculous on you.”
Cassidy twirled around again. The kids surrounding her all
laughed. She kicked out one booted foot and cocked her hip
to the side, one hand resting at her waist while the other
arm held her pink purse.
“Jealous, Nightmare On My Street?”
“What?” What the hell did that mean?
“Are. You. Jealous. Of. Me. Brynn?” she asked slowly,
enunciating every word.
“No, as a matter of fact, I’m not. I pity you.” What a lie.
“You”—Cassidy pointed to Brynn, then thumbed back at
herself—“pity me? You have to be kidding. I have what
everyone wants. What do you have?”
Well, as a matter of fact, Brynn had brains, and she was
cute but not vain. She had the best friend anyone could ask
for and two very loving parents. She had good grades and a
ticket out of suburban California. She had everything she
wanted… except the one person she’d been most fascinated
with her entire high school career.
Instead of some biting, snarky comeback, Brynn hugged her
book tighter and looked away. She absolutely refused to play
this game with Cassidy, especially in front of all Cassidy’s
friends. She would only be laughed at, and right now, she
had more important things to worry about.
She pushed through the group of popular kids as they laughed
and teased her. Despite their bullying, she didn’t let them
get to her. She ignored them as she continued down the hall
to her calculus class, and she sat down at her desk as if
none of that had ever happened. Brynn painted a smile on her
face—as fake as it was—pulled out her pencil and her book,
and readied herself for that stupid exam. Soon enough, the
day would be over, and she could drown her miseries in a
little music, maybe even a Tim Burton classic.
Yes, she really was that stereotypical.
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