*please link your synopsis*
Eleven-year-old BETH WINCANDER hasn’t smiled in three years, ever since the night a witch stole her cousin and she found out the children in their family are cursed to vanish before they turn twelve. Never recovering from her grief, Beth becomes a numb and apathetic child. She believes to have resigned to her fate, but when the Wincander Witch comes to snatch her, Beth realizes she still has a desire to live.
The witch turns out to be Beth’s estranged grandaunt, SERENA WINCANDER. The surly old woman locks Beth in a cottage with three ravens, who dote on the girl and try to cheer her up with books and games while Serena spends most of her time away. But when a powerful witch named VELMA comes to curse Beth, Serena hides her in time. But Beth now knows the truth: the witch Velma is the one cursing her family and the three ravens are the missing Wincander girls who failed to escape her. Although Beth’s afraid of getting caught, the fact that she might still have a future thaws away her apathy and she vows to break the curse and save her family.
Grandaunt Serena has been trying to break the curse for two decades but Velma's curse is far too powerful because it was born out of ‘loathing and vengeance’ but this only makes Beth wonder what made Velma seek revenge. Serena snaps and becomes defensive regarding the topic and refuses to talk about it, but when her antidote potion fails and Beth demands to know the origin of their greatest pain, Serena finally reveals the truth. Back when Velma and Serena were neighbors, Velma’s pet ravens pestered Serena by cawing all the time, keeping her from sleeping at night and from focusing on her job during the day. They were driving her insane, and, one day, Serena, raving and sleep deprived, snapped and murdered all twelve ravens. Velma cursed Serena’s descendants—all of them were to turn to ravens at twelve years of age.
Beth is shocked by her grandaunt’s crime, and she’s sure that if the curse was birthed by ‘loathing and vengeance’ then only ‘love and justice’ could end it, and that the person who can break it is Serena—by apologizing and helping Velma through her pain. But Serena is too proud and stubborn refuses to apologize and insists that Velma is the one who must ask for forgiveness for torturing and stalking the Wincander family. Desperate to break the curse, Beth escapes the cottage with the ravens’ help to find Velma and apologize to her in her grandaunt’s behalf. Velma does listen and turns out to be a gentle old woman whose grief had blinded her and now, at hearing the girls’ heartache, apologizes for the pain she caused them. Beth’s theory was right for the witch undoes the curse, however, just when the curse is lifted off the girls, befalls on Serena, who is now trapped in the body of a raven.
Beth and the girls try to convince Serena to apologize as it is the only way to break the curse, but the old woman is far too stubborn and cannot admit any wrongness of her part. Her pride keeps her from even discussing the subject and she leads the girls back home. Beth cannot let it go, and she writes to each witch a letter to meet her at the same time and place, both unaware of each other’s coming. But the plan backfires when proud Serena sees Velma, and realizing what is expected of her, snaps and goes on a rampage spitting horrible insults at the witch. Velma, deeply hurt, curses Serena into a snake, a more fitting animal in her mind.
Without limbs or wings or a way of doing magic, Serena is completely dependent on the girls and is taken to live with them. She spends her first days as a snake hissing and cussing and resenting Velma, but Beth forces the old woman to join the girls’ plays and games and their everyday fun. Slowly but steadily, Serena enjoys her life with the girls, and grows so fond of it, she begins to see them as her own children. Her heart finds a place for love and understanding, buy giving up some of its hatred and resentment. Soon, she realizes what she truly took from Velma—she took what now Serena herself gained: a family.
Guilt hits Serena hard and when she decides to apologize to Velma, Beth goes with her. But Velma suspects Serena is only apologizing to regain her human body and so she doesn’t break the curse. Serena accepts this gracefully for she knows she has hurt Velma too much, and she is happy with her girls. Beth is very proud of her and of herself, for both of them had let their bad feelings reign for far too long but now both rose above them and finally found happiness. Both had been trapped, Beth by apathy and numbness and Serena by resentment and pride. But Beth is not the only one noticing the change, for Velma is secretly keeping an eye on the Wincander Witch and, realizing Serena is a changed woman, she turns Serena into a human again.
The Wincanders are curse-free and united. Beth is soon turning 13, a miracle which Serena never thought would happen, and, after the party, on Beth’s request, Serena takes two slices of cake back home which she shares over tea with Velma.