Cover image for Curse of the Night Witch
Curse of the Night Witch
Physical Description:
pages cm.

On Order

R.H. Stafford Library (Woodbury)2On Order
Hardwood Creek Library (Forest Lake)1On Order
Lake Elmo Library1On Order
Oakdale Library1On Order
Park Grove Library (Cottage Grove)1On Order
Stillwater Public Library1On Order
Wildwood/Mahtomedi District Education Center 1On Order



An Amazon Best Book of the Month!
A Most Anticipated Book of Summer!
A Zibby Owens Summer Reading Pick on Good Morning America!

"Worthy of every magical ounce"--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

A fast-paced series starter, perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Timeand Percy Jackson, filled with adventure, mythology, and an unforgettable trio of friends.

On Emblem Island all are born knowing their fate. Their lifelines show the course of their life and an emblem dictates how they will spend it.

Twelve-year-old Tor Luna was born with a leadership emblem, just like his mother. But he hates his mark and is determined to choose a different path for himself. So, on the annual New Year's Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire in the hopes of having them granted, Tor wishes for a different power.

The next morning Tor wakes up to discover a new marking on his skin...the symbol of a curse that has shortened his lifeline, giving him only a week before an untimely death. There is only one way to break the curse, and it requires a trip to the notorious Night Witch.

With only his village's terrifying, ancient stories as a guide, and his two friends Engle and Melda by his side, Tor must travel across unpredictable Emblem Island, filled with wicked creatures he only knows through myths, in a race against his dwindling lifeline.

"Debut author Aster takes inspiration from Colombian folklore to craft a rousing series opener that's both fast-paced and thrilling. As her protagonists face off against a host of horrors, they learn the value of friendship and explore the possibility of changing one's fate in a world where destiny is predetermined."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

Author Notes

Alex Aster is an author who recently graduated from The University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing. The Emblem Island series is inspired by the Latin American myths her Colombian grandmother told her as a child before bedtime. She lives in New York. Explore the world of Emblem Island at

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4--8--Tor Luna has always known how his monotonous life will go. In his home on Emblem Island, people are born with their lifelines written on their hands and an emblem (a gift) on their skin. Tor's leadership emblem and smooth-fated lifeline motivates him to ask the wish-gods on New Year's Eve for a new power. Instead, Tor is cursed with a wicked marking that drastically shortens his lifeline. Teaming up with his best friend Engle and clever classmate Melda, Tor begins a journey across the island in search of the one person who can change his fate, the Night Witch. Aster kicks off a new series encompassed in a Latin American myth-based world. The story line is embellished with excerpts from The Book of Cuentos, Emblem Island's ancient text, to expand on the islanders' lore while subtly foreshadowing future events. The vibrant detail given to each village Tor travels through (like a phosphorescent jungle or formidable Amazonian giantesses) provides rich scenery that is a delight to imagine. Embedded in Tor's cross-island trek are a multitude of life lessons, such as accepting failure, asking for help, practicing humility, and finding honest people. Discerning readers may spot the final twist early, though this won't dampen the ending as it unravels. VERDICT A fast-paced island adventure with enough quirks to entice most young fantasy readers.--Emily Walker, Lisle Lib. Dist., IL

Publisher's Weekly Review

Tor Luna, 12, was born with a leadership emblem; the "two purple rings around his left wrist" signify that he will someday lead, just like his chieftess mother. Hoping to become a water-breather, instead--swimming is his great joy and source of calm--he wishes on the New Year's Eve bonfire; during the yearly celebration, anything can happen. Instead of a changed emblem, though, he's struck by a witch's curse, one that cuts his lifeline, and his friends', to a single week. To find the fabled Night Witch and break the curse, Tor, sharp-eyed Engle, and natural leader Melda venture through the most dangerous, magical regions of Emblem Island, using a volume of old stories, The Book of Cuentos, as their guide. Debut author Aster takes inspiration from Colombian folklore to craft a rousing series opener that's both fast-paced and thrilling. As her protagonists face off against a host of horrors, they learn the value of friendship and explore the possibility of changing one's fate in a world where destiny is predetermined. Excerpts from Tor's Book of Cuentos grant further insight into the vividly built world's monsters, legends, and cautionary tales. Ages 8--12. Agent: Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary. (June)

Kirkus Review

New Year's Eve has finally arrived on Emblem Island, and for 12-year-old Tor Luna, it means an opportunity to wish away the leadership emblem he so deeply loathes. Amid the annual festivities, Tor casts his wish to the wish-gods in hopes of a new emblem--a marker on one's skin--that will grant him the power to become a water-breather, forsaking the leadership path forged by his Chieftess mother. Alas, his wish backfires when he awakens the next day cursed with a shorter lifeline instead. It's the Night Witch's mark, a black eye marked upon his skin. Now the young boy must travel across Emblem Island to confront the wicked Night Witch and reverse the curse. With two companions--Engle, his comically brave best friend, and Melda, an intelligent, cunning girl--Tor embarks on an adventure charted in The Book of Cuentos, a collection of folklore based on the various enchanting, cruel inhabitants--Emblemite and beast alike--of Emblem Island. Aster's debut includes the fruitful elements of a riveting tale: lovable characters, thrilling heroics, and villainous fiends. What sets this series opener apart is the author's exquisite use of real Latin American folktales to broaden her fiction, bolstering the particulars of the world she creates here. Pages from The Book of Cuentos fill the gaps between each chapter, providing island lore for flavor and context. Tightly paced, Tor's adventure concludes with a promise of more to come. Worthy of every magical ounce. (Fantasy. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

On Emblem Island, people are born with marks on their wrist that represent their powers and lifelines on their palms that show their fate. Tor Luna bears a leadership emblem, meaning he'll follow in the footsteps of his mother, but he wants more than the boring future that his flat lifeline predicts. On New Year's Eve, Tor wishes for a different emblem, but he wakes up the next day with a curse instead. With the help of two friends, Tor embarks on a quest woven with color and magic to find the fabled Night Witch and break his curse. Aster takes readers on a journey across Emblem Island, a land bursting with fantastical creatures and ancient stories inspired by Latin American myths. Despite some flat characterization, Aster balances a fast-paced plot rife with hair-raising action and snippets of Emblem Island folklore, offering a story about sacrifice and risk-taking that's great for young mythology fans, and ending with the promise of a thrilling sequel.