Review: The XYZs of Being Wicked by Lara Chapman

Middle Grade Madness

The XYZs of Being Wicked by Lara Chapman

When a young witch goes off to boarding school, she discovers powers that leave her with a challenging choice.

Eleven-year-old Hallie is more thrilled than you might think to be shipping off to boarding school. After seeing how horrible “normal” kids can be – kids like her former BFF, Kendall Scott – Hallie figures The Dowling Academy School of Witchcraft will be a welcome fresh start. Plus, it’s a chance to make her dad proud that she’s continuing family traditions and becoming the best kind of witch, just like her legendary great-great-grandmother.

But when Hallie arrives at Dowling, she’s dismayed to discover her roommate will be none other than awful Kendall. And when Hallie’s witching talents take a turn for the dark side, she must determine whether it’s abilities or choices that distinguish the good from the wicked.

Title: The XYZs of Being Wicked (Xyzs of Being Wicked #1)
Author: Lara Chapman
Publication date: July 22, 2014

I won The XYZs of Being Wicked on Goodreads.

A book about boarding school for young witches? Sign me up! I was thrilled to win this book and ever since I received it I’ve had it in mind for Scaretober. Although there’s nothing scary about it, it sort of fits the theme, right?

There are similarities to Harry Potter that you can’t ignore, with eleven year olds with a family heritage of being witches are starting school at a boarding school for witchcraft being the most obvious. But that’s just setup. This book isn’t trying to be Harry Potter. The world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts is epic and dark, while The XYZs of Being Wicked takes a more light-hearted approach. Even when Hallie’s rival/roommate Kendall and her new BFF Zena (who happens to be the daughter of Dowling’s headmistress) are scheming, Hallie’s life is never in danger. After all, dark magic is strictly forbidden at Dowling. How much trouble can they possibly create magically?

The XYZs of Being Wicked mixes normal middle school drama over friends and boys (there’s a boys’ school nearby — and dances!) with life as a witch. Hallie and Kendall were best friends a long time ago until about third grade when Kendall turned mean towards Hallie. There’s really no reason given for this, but I’d guess it was because Kendall wanted to be more popular and Hallie was holding her back. That usually doesn’t happen until around sixth grade, but since the girls are in sixth grade in this book, it had to happen earlier for this story to work.

Hallie has a new best friend, too. Ivy is Zena’s roommate and the four girls share all the same classes, which gives them a lot of opportunities for conflicts. Each girl in the school has a special gift. Discovering it and honing it is a focal point of the first year at Dowling. Hallie has a few missteps before she finds hers, and when she does, everyone is surprised to find out that she might not be following as closely in her great-great grandmother’s footsteps after all.

I’m looking forward to reading Accidentally Evil, the next book in the series (and I hope there will be more). The elements of witchcraft and boarding school add a nice touch to the usual middle school stories I love to read.

4 stars



  1. This definitely sounds like a fun light story! The mix between the magical element and normal middle school drama seems well done. And that part about them all fidnign their own gift sounds very interesting. Great Review!
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