The Revenge Artist by Philip Hoy

Girl writing at her desk at school
The Revenge Artist by Philip Hoy
Publisher: Lycaon Press
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (172 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A bullied teen embarks on a dark journey of revenge when she discovers the power to make bad things happen by drawing them.

Evelyn Hernandez is a high school junior who reads Shakespeare for fun, sews her own dresses, and keeps a sketch journal of her daily life. When varsity quarterback Garvey Valenzuela breaks her heart, she sends him to the emergency room with a busted hand.

Add black magic to her résumé.

The Revenge Artist is the story of a bullied teen who embarks on a dark journey of revenge when she discovers she has the power to make bad things happen by drawing them. The novel explores the emotional pain, isolation, and self-hatred caused by bullying and cyber-bullying in particular as it follows the self-destructive path taken by one teen attempting to defend herself from bullies.

Evelyn is temporarily empowered by her ability to hurt others, “Don’t you know? I’m a witch… a real, honest to God, black-hearted, evil witch!” and this is what keeps her from seeing that her true power comes from her loyal and caring nature, the love and support of her friends and family, and most of all, her intelligence and creativity.

They say karma catches up with everyone eventually, so what’s wrong with helping it show up a little early?

Evelyn’s character development was strong. She has a good balance of flaws and strengths, several of which played an important role later on in this tale. I really enjoy it when authors tie their protagonist’s personalities so strongly to the plot because it leaves a lot of room for the main character to grow emotionally as a result of his or her experiences.

There were some pacing issues early on. Approximately the first third of the book was used for character development as well as setting the scene for everything that happened later on. While all of the background information I learned in this section was important, the blurb lead me to assume that I’d be reading something that moved along more quickly. In some ways these two portions felt like entirely different stories due to how they were paced and the issues they spent the most time focusing on. It would have been helpful to have a few more glimpses of the excitement to come in the first chapter or two in order to bridge the gap between Evelyn’s ordinary life and what happens to her after her big betrayal.

The conversations Evelyn has with her friends sometimes switched from English to Spanish for a phrase or sentence. I recommend taking the time to translate them to anyone who isn’t fluent in Spanish because they were so well written and informative. It was fun to get to know Evelyn and her friends from these brief exchanges as they often showed sides of these characters’ personalities that were otherwise hidden.

The Revenge Artist is an intriguing choice for anyone who knows what it’s like to be teased or bullied in school.

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