Witch Baby

[openbook booknumber=”0064470652″][rating:4/5]

Once upon a time in the city of Shangri-L.A., someone left a baby on a doorstep. She had wild, dark hair and purple eyes and looked at the world in a special way.

The family that took her in called her Witch Baby and raised her as their own. But even though she tried to fit in, Witch Baby never felt as though she truly belonged.

So one day she packed her bat-shaped backpack, put her black cowboy-boot roller skates, and went out into the real world to find out who she really was…

In Witch Baby Francesca Lia Block really spreads her wings and finds her pace. Witch Baby is the second book in her Dangerous Angels series and is her sophomore novel. You really need to have read Weetzie Bat for Witch Baby to make any sense.

Witch Baby is my favorite character in the whole crazy Bat family. She is a black sheep, an outsider, a loner. She doesn’t want to stick her head in the sand and forget about the troubles in the world, or pretend they don’t exist. She doesn’t try and use smoke and mirrors in the guise of drugs, alcohol, parties, etc to hide from the ugly truth of the world. She faces it head on. She puts it on display for everyone to see and forces other people to acknowledge the pain and suffering, the poisons and toxins, the ignorance and fear.

No one noticed Witch Baby as she went back inside the cottage, into the room she and Cherokee shared.
       Cherokee’s side of the room was filled with feathers, crystals, butterfly wings, rocks, shells and dried flowers. there was a small tepee that Coyote had helped Cherokee make. The walls on Witch Baby’s side of the room were covered with newspaper clippings – nuclear accidents, violence, poverty and disease. Every night, before she went to bed, Witch Baby cut out three articles or pictures with a pair of toenail scissors and taped them to the wall. they make Cherokee cry.
       “Why do you want to have those up there?” Weetzie asked. “You’ll both have nightmares.”

Between this gruff take on life and her various eccentricities which tend to alienate her from other people she lives a very lonely life for being in such a large family.

I always had a special place for Witch Baby ever since she was introduced in Weetzie Bat. Here we have a child that was dropped on their door stop and this loving/happy/glowing family’s first reaction is to kick the baby out. She is an illegitimate love child (so is Cherokee, for all they know) and even her own father doesn’t want her around. Then they decide to keep her but because the woman who seduced My Secret Agent Lover Man was an evil witch (he couldn’t possibly have just f’d up and made a mistake, amirite? it’s the woman’s fault) they decided to predetermine this baby to follow in her mother’s foot steps and name her Witch Baby. Great.

In just a few paragraphs everyone (even the baby Cherokee) start treating Witch Baby like a horrible witch child and so the child reacts accordingly. She is a monster of their creation, but because she is not cut from the same glowingly love, love, love cloth as everyone else in the family she becomes a more well rounded character. She sees the dark and she is not afraid of it. She wants to help her father create movies that show these dark things and the lessons to be found in them. She wants to acknowledge the times that we live in, but most importantly she wants to find a place to belong.

The book Witch Baby takes us on an adventure with her as we see LA through more realistic eyes and discover more back story on her and several of the other characters (but mainly the lovers Dirk and Duck). Through her camera she sees everything both from an in and outside perspective and is remarkably perceptive for a child her age. They never say it but I would guess she’s in her tweens.

Again I think this is a book appropriate for more of a high school audience, but I think it is much better than Weetzie Bat. There is more depth, more rounded characters, more of an overall plot and a strong message. The ending wraps up very quickly into a ridiculously unrealistic bow, but that is the way of the magical books in the Dangerous Angels series. Highly recommended GLBT fiction. Witch Baby delivers hope, understanding, courage and love.

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