Certain to enchant fans of Maggie Stiefvater and C. L. Herman, Alyssa’s wry prose will charm readers while she puts them on a ride through the many twists and turns that Idlewood has hiding up its sleeve…and as she shows sometimes love has an unexpected dark side.

by Alyssa Villaire
Little, Brown Books, Summer 2025
(via Park & Fine)

Photo by Bianca Dansoh

Rumors are the lifeblood of Idlewood, Indiana. The locals whisper that the De Lucas are witches, and that decades prior they cursed the wealthy Barrion family as revenge for a love gone tragically wrong: now, if a Barrion falls in love with you, you’ll die. If this isn’t reason enough for wallflower Penny Emberly to stay away from both families, she doesn’t know what is. But when Penny’s mom is in an accident that leaves her on the brink of death, Penny can’t ignore the rumors anymore—because the Barrion curse is real. And her mom is its latest victim.

In order to save her mom’s life, Penny must bring together two bitter enemies on either side of the feud, and work with both of them to find a way to break the curse. For star quarterback Corey Barrion, doing so would mean finally saving his family from the magic that killed his mom. And for misfit witch Alonso De Luca, it would mean convincing Penny—and everyone else in Idlewood—that he isn’t the villain they believe him to be.

But as the trio navigates Alonso’s unpredictable magic, the tangled web of Barrion-De Luca history, and an increasingly chaotic group chat, it soon becomes clear that the curse is not what they expected. Did a De Luca really curse the Barrions in a fit of jealousy, or is something even more sinister afoot? Penny will have to conquer her anxiety, wrestle with her budding feelings for Alonso, and delve deep into dangerous, forbidden magic to find the truth—or risk losing her mom forever.

Alyssa Villaire is a writer of young adult fantasy. While she’s based in Los Angeles, most of her stories harken back to the places where she grew up—from the woods of rural Indiana to the lakeshores of Wisconsin and Michigan. She has published short stories in Luna Station Quarterly and in an anthology titled Journeys to Uncharted Lands. When she’s not writing, Alyssa is probably eating spicy food, watching horror movies, or waiting in a virtual Ticketmaster line.

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