Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Witch Boy

I bought this book because I am a big fan of Molly Knox Ostertag. I love the webcomic she draws, Strong Female Protagonist, and I also very much enjoyed the sci-fi tale The Shattered Warrior that was released earlier this year. The difference with this book, The Witch Boy, is that she both wrote and drew it, so I was eager to see how it turned out. It is an impressive solo debut, and I appreciated very much how she told a nuanced tale of young people finding their way and also having to navigate their family relationships.

The narrative here follows Aster, whose family is touched by magic. All the women in the family become witches and are trained in mystical arts. All of the men are shapeshifters who learn how to fight and defend their homes and families. Aster is an outlier because he cannot seem to shapeshift, but he is highly interested in magic and sneakily learns how to cast spells and use magical objects. On top of this break with tradition, he is also quite friendly with a non-magical girl (can I call her a muggle if it's not Harry Potter related?) named Charlie.
His actions disrupt tradition, causing his parents concern and also opening him up to criticism from others. However, when strange creatures start lurking about and his boy cousins start disappearing, his in-between status might just be what is needed to get to the bottom of things. If it seems these details are vague, it's because I don't want to spoil much. I found this book very compelling and human, and I loved how the family and relationship drama was portrayed in real and complex ways. The Witch Boy is a double threat, a fun tale of magic and intrigue that has a few genuinely scary bits but also an exploration of how families can be loving, frustrating, and supportive, even when traditional roles are broken.
All of the reviews I have read about this book have been glowing. In a starred review for School Library Journal, Andrea Lipinski summed it up as "An excellent choice for reluctant readers, fans of fantasy, and those looking for books that explore gender roles." In another starred review, Kirkus Reviews concluded "With charming artwork, interesting supporting characters, natural-feeling diversity, and peeks of a richly developed world, this book leaves readers wishing for more." Mugglenet called it "smart and fun."

Ostertag speaks more about her work and inspirations for this book in this interview.

The Witch Boy was published by Scholastic, and they have more info about it here.

2 comments:

  1. Just found this blog and I'm loving the fact that you're turning me on to graphic novels I've never even heard of. The major comic websites like bleeding cool, cbr, comicsbeat, etc. mainly talk about Marvel and DC with only 10% coverage for everyone else. I'm glad you're showing good stuff off the beaten path. Please keep up the blog. I'll try to comment more since you're blog is in my bookmarked sites list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the kind words! Come on back and let me know what you think :)

      Delete