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Same book, different covers!

Awards & Honors


  • Society of School Librarians International (SSLI) Honor Book

  • an IRA-CBC Children's Choice

  • a VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Book of the Year



"Introduce Rowling fans to Vande Velde, and watch them make magic."  

—The Bulletin

Comparing Covers


Other books with covers by Tristan Elwell (including the original paperback of Magic Can Be Murder):


Magic Can Be Murder 

Original cover art by Tristan Elwell

Current paperback cover by Shane Rebenschied

Ages: 12 & Up

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Book Description:

While casting a spell, Nola witnesses a murder, and she must decide whether to endanger herself by revealing she is a witch when she sees the wrong person getting accused of the crime.

Where do you GET those ideas?


Magic Can Be Murder came about because I enjoy mysteries. I started with the idea of someone who is trying to solve a murder who disguises herself to get out of trouble, but this only gets her into more trouble. Every step she takes to try to make the situation better actually makes things more complicated, more dangerous.



As she brought the bucket around to the back of the house to dump the wine-clouded water, Nola found her footsteps getting heavier and slower, until she stopped altogether. She'd recognized from the smell that the wine Kirwyn had spilled had been blackberry wine, and that put her in mind once again of the man from Low Beck, the farmer who had hired them to pick blackberries. She remembered the strand of hair she had taken so long ago that morning. And she remembered that he had called her and her mother witches.

There was no reason to check to make sure the man wasn't plotting against them.

But she couldn't help herself.

Instead of taking the bucket back to the storage closet, she brought it down to the root cellar. Carefully she set the bucket on the floor. Very quietly she said the words that made the water receptive to shadowforms. With one last glance around to make sure she was alone, she tossed the hair of the blackberry farmer into the water.


The hair puckered the surface of the water, then shapes began to swirl and dance. They settled into the image of the man at his own kitchen table...

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