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The Witch Boy #1

The Witch Boy

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From the illustrator of the web comic Strong Female Protagonist comes a debut middle-grade graphic novel about family, identity, courage -- and magic.
In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted . . . and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

224 pages

First published October 28, 2017

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About the author

Molly Knox Ostertag

45 books1,694 followers
I grew up in the forests of upstate New York, where I spent the first half of my childhood reading about fantastical adventures and the second half acting them out with foam swords at a live action roleplaying camp . I graduated in 2014 from the School of Visual Arts, where I studied cartooning and illustration, and I currently live in Los Angeles. My artistic interests include women in fiction, fantasy and sci fi, superheroes, and history.

I illustrate a twice weekly webcomic called Strong Female Protagonist with co-creator Brennan Lee Mulligan, which was listed as one of io9's Best New and Short Webcomics when it launched in 2012. I ran a successful Kickstarter in the summer of 2014 to print the first volume, which was distributed by Top Shelf comics and is now available in stores and online.

I'm currently working on a graphic novel with First Second named Shattered Warrior, coming out in Spring 2017.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,064 reviews
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,558 followers
October 19, 2017
Such a cute little graphic novel that challenges gender constructs in a unique way. Plus it's just a fun spooky magical story! My only complaint was that I wish it was a bit longer and more fleshed out. But I really enjoyed reading it.
Profile Image for Erica.
1,327 reviews435 followers
January 29, 2018
This book has killed me and I am dead, typing out reviews from beyond the grave because I know how to live the best afterlife.

Originally, this piqued my interest because of the title and cover. Witches? Yes, please. Boy witches? Interesting! Cute kid + monster shadow? I'm in!
And if you like reading on the surface, that's exactly what this story is about - witches and shapeshifters, fitting in (or not), family, friendship, and terrible monsters.
If you're more of a Find the Symbolism/Read Deeper/ALL THE ALLEGORIES! person, then you'll find a whole lot more going on including gender roles, societal expectations, diversity and acceptance, as well as witches and shapeshifters, fitting in (or not), family, friendship, and the making of terrible monsters and how that can be avoided.

Here's what charmed me (I'm so clever with my words):
1) The illustrations. They're adorable, colorful, well-rendered and, oddly, reminded me a lot of Noelle Stevenson's* work, even though everything is less pointy and not as thin-lined. It's got a similar feeeeeel, though.

(ok, that looks more like Calvin and Hobbes but trust me, there's a Noelle Stevenson vibe running throughout, too)

2) There is one gender norm pushed in this book (and it's pushed so it can be shattered) and all the others are nearly erased. The protagonist, Aster, has a girl-typical name and when compared to his cousins, looks effeminate. But he's a boy and that only matters because he's supposed to be a shapeshifter. Boys are shapeshifters, girls are witches. Those are the only roles to which genders must conform in this story. Otherwise, everyone is who they are. Aster's mother, Holly, is the ultimate earth mother type, primal femininity, nurturing, running around barefoot in her country dress. She looks like some Irish goddess. Aster's aunt Iris, though, looks like she came from a punk rock band and is all emotion and reaction. Other than Aster's dad, a thoughtful, family-oriented, slender-but-strong brown man, we don't get to see as much of the male counterparts and what we do see seems typically masculine, mostly, all except Aster. The other boys tease him because he sucks at doing what they do, shapeshifter stuff, athletic stuff, physical stuff, not because of his name or his looks or anything else.
Aster meets Charlie, a super sporty black girl WITH THICK ANKLES!** who didn't even know magic really existed until she saw Aster doing witchery in her neighborhood. She knows who she is, what she wants, and where she's going. She is the epitome of being herself without caring what anyone else thinks about her. She's also somewhat reckless, as evidenced by her broken leg. It's only natural these two would fit together so well.

3) Aster and Charlie's friendship is perfect. There are no romantic under or overtones, they are so wonderfully comfortable with each other, they obviously love and admire one another a lot and they intentionally work together instead of doing that "I have to do this alone" nonsense. It's beautiful and I wish friendships like this were represented more often.

4) There's one message that gets driven home, pointy end first. The rest of them are just there, lying around for the reader to pick up either intentionally or subconsciously. The cast is racially, genderly, sexually, aged-ly, all the other -ly's diverse. And it's unquestioned. Except for the storyline about defying gender norms, everything else is just accepted. What a great message to plant in the mind of the younguns: you're not like everyone else? That's fine. They're not like everyone else? Also fine. Find your commonalities and make friends among people with whom you connect while respecting everyone else even if you don't personally like them. And this simple message is there to witness but it's not preached, not at all. I loved that.

I would recommend this book to everyone who likes books like Princeless #1, Lumberjanes, Nimona, hell even Rat Queens #1 if you're looking for something aimed at a younger audience, and for readers who love Raina Telgemeier and/or Faith Erin Hicks.

*soooo...I'm reading the acknowledgements and at the end, Molly thanks her partner, Noelle, for making their house a home or something. Now, aside from my sister's, I don't see the name Noelle that often so the first one that came to mind, because she was already in my mind due to the aforementioned illustration style, I wondered...could Molly be talking about Noelle Stevenson? I mean, they'd know each other from being in the same industry, and all. I stalked them this morning and guess what? They're a couple! Which is kinda great because, in retrospect, I'd totally ship them even though I give no shits about people's relationships. These two are too perfect and adorable to not be together and they're melting my heart. I wonder if they need an aunt. I only have two nieces and two nephews, there's plenty of room for two more.

**Thick ankles is something that is never talked about. Like, never! But it's such a worry for so many kids, mostly girls but also boys, especially athletic kids. You never ever see imagery of thick ankles on anyone who isn't pregnant, in which case it's shown as a symptom of pregnancy and is used to evoke sympathy or empathy, or fat, in which case it's shown as a symptom of being overweight and just think about how nice those legs would be if they didn't look like tree trunks, or old, in which case it's shown as a symptom of agedness when your body gives out and you can't be pretty anymore because you are ancient. But not everyone has thin ankles and some people, especially people who run and kick and use their legs a lot, have strong, hearty, not-thin ankles! It's not a terrible thing at all, it's not shameful, it's not a symptom of anything. It's a body part and unless you've got gout, you should not be worried about the size of your ankles so thank you, Molly, for bringing this up because more kids need to know that ankles aren't supposed to come in one size only.
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books430 followers
February 6, 2022
So What’s It About?

In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

What I Thought

Sometimes a graphic novel serves as a nice, refreshing palate cleanser, and I think that was definitely the case for me and The Witch Boy. It’s a short and sweet little story, beautifully illustrated, that manages to pack in some great explorations of gender, acceptance and belonging in its relatively short number of pages.

Aster’s story offers an investigation of the way that we construct gender – specifically, the way we etch the gender binary in stone by essentializing specific activities to different genders. When we make blanket statements about people of any gender (men are x, women are y, men do x, women do y) we force people to limit themselves and the full complexity of their lived experiences. In this case, witches are women and their magic is forbidden to men.

When I was reading this story, I thought a lot about feminist theorist Judith Butler, and what she says about the ongoing project of constructing gender. Her idea is that all of us are constantly engaged in the process of performing our conception of what we think our gender is supposed to be, and all of us are secretly failing. Aster happens to be much more upfront about how he fails in his gender performance than anyone else in his community, and the result is frustration, bullying and ostracization.

His experience of not fitting in, disappointing his family and struggling in isolation because of his differences speaks compellingly to the experiences of queer kids, and I’d also argue that the antagonist of the story is also a great representation of how toxic masculinity forms. A man becomes a monster because he was outcast and punished for his disobedience to gender norms -any perceived signs of femininity. He then fermented in bitterness and resentment because of the way he was punished and forbidden from expressing his true self. I think Ostertag’s argument is that gendered divisions and dichotomies accompanied by rules about how to behave necessarily create an “other” who is different from you and therefore a potential source of resentment and jealousy. It’s a lot to pack into a YA graphic novel, and I have to give Ostertag massive props for tacking such weighty issues in The Witch Boy.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,579 followers
May 11, 2020

representation: characters of colour, characters with varying body types, queer characters (a character has 2 dads).

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]


This was so great. Great discussion on gender stereotypes and how harmful they can be. I also loved the illustration style!

trigger warnings: dead animals, bullying.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,871 reviews31.2k followers
September 25, 2018
Oh sweet Billy Elliot! How could I not love this book about witches, breaking gender stereotypes and magic? Pure Pleasure to read. Such a great read. In this world, women are witches and do magic while men are shapeshifters and they protect. Aster is a lovely boy who keeps trying to overhear the secret women's teaching. He is drawn to it and not to the shapeshifting side. He keeps being pushed to connect with shapeshifting and he tries and tries and he can't.

I started reading this and I could not put this down. I was so pulled into the story. I love Molly's work and I will keep my eye on her and her work. She is a fantastic storyteller. I love her story and I love her art. She had good characters and a well driven plot.

What a joy to read. It's also a fast read. I can't wait to read the next volume. I think it comes out next year. This was a pleasure to read.
Profile Image for Skye Kilaen.
Author 15 books304 followers
February 28, 2018
Fairly straightforward but heartfelt tale about the toxicity of rigid gender roles, with lovely art because Molly Knox Ostertag is amazing. It's the story of Aster, a boy growing up in a society where women do magic and men shapeshift, and that's that. Except it isn't, because Aster does magic and doesn't shapeshift. What I particularly appreciated: (a) Aster's confidence-building friendship with a girl outside his community who also doesn't follow gender norms, (b) The diversity of skin color among the magical community, and (c) the magic system, because I would love to talk to a tree with a cool-looking symbol and have it give me an apple. The resolution with Aster's parents was bittersweet but realistic given that they're fundamentally good people but severely blindered by their culture. Hopefully every library in the entire country has this on the shelves, it's both entertaining and sorely needed.
Profile Image for Lamaleluna.
286 reviews1,132 followers
September 16, 2022
Un libro precioso

El niño brujo es una novela gráfica middle grade (dirigida a un público infantil/juvenil) en dónde nuestro protagonista sueña con ser brujo pero en su comunidad le prohíben serlo. Los hombres deben transformarse en animales y las mujeres deben estudiar brujería.

Los dibujos son adorables, me daban mucha ternura y creo que el mensaje que transmite la novela es perfecto para ser leído por el público infantil. Este joven niño va a intentar ser aceptado por su familia y romper con los roles de género, para que le permitan hacer lo que él sueña.
La verdad es que lo disfruté mucho y se los súper recomiendo ✨

Yo leyendo El niño brujo: 🥺🥰🤩😊✨
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,230 followers
November 24, 2017
This was sweet and beautifully drawn, and it may hit the sweet spot for a lot of young readers, but it left something to be desired. Everything felt a little shallow and not fully fleshed out, and there's no real "twist" -- even though I think one was slightly intended -- as it couldn't be more obvious what's going on. And it has a nice message, which it presents without the least bit of subtlety.
I think its strengths are in the relationships, which I wish had been explored even more. As a longer book or part of an ongoing series, slowed down to really build those relationships and interactions, this could have been really lovely.
As it was, it was sweet and quick, and not something I regret giving the time to -- but underwhelming, all the same.
Profile Image for Julie Zantopoulos.
Author 4 books2,239 followers
February 3, 2019
What a great graphic novel that discusses gender roles and stereotypes, that can be used as a metaphor for sexual orientation, and is a fun and beautifully drawn journey for kids to go on. Legit, I really enjoyed this story about our MC Aster, a boy who wants to do magic but isn't supposed to. So thankful to Chelsea from Chelseadolling Reads for gifting this to me, I loved it.
Profile Image for Jackson Bird.
Author 2 books722 followers
July 4, 2018
This was everything I’ve ever wanted in a story. Big magical family living in a giant house in the woods. Kids who don’t conform to gender roles. Realistic, loveable characters. Tons of diversity. I’m so happy there’s a second installment coming, but how will I wait until October??
Profile Image for Yakult Boy.
83 reviews
September 4, 2021
A heavy handed story about overcoming gender roles with clumsy world building and rushed art.

The good first: in terms of art, the color schemes are quite nice. The colouring really evokes a younger era of art that isn’t based on localised colours but rather based on mood. I love the concept of a big magical family set in modern times.

The bad: basically everything else?

The world building is clumsy and feels like a first draft of ideas that weren’t seen through. The basis of the ideas are good, an extended family of witches and shapeshifters with different familial duties has the potential for a lot of conflict. Yet there isn’t any solid conflict that reinforces any of the world building. The magical family aren’t supposed to make contact with the non magical humans. Why? What consequences are there if humans knew? Nothing bad happened when Charlie is directly told about the magical world. Boys aren’t allowed to do witch things. Why? We’re told (in the most on the nose fashion possible in the opening pages) that if boys did girl magic, they’d turn into monsters, hurt people, and damage houses. Yet all of these “stakes” are completely undermined when grandma reveals she is part shapeshifter and part witch...with no consequences whatsoever. It brings into question- why couldn’t grandma create a new generation of gender fluid magical people if she was one? There are endless plot holes when you think about the story long enough.

The dialogue and the grammar is atrocious. Ostertag has this habit of using "and", “...” and “- -“ to avoid writing sentences with proper structure. Instead of finding a logical way to connect two ideas, she just props them together.
For example:
“We’re just saying you’re weird. You don’t pay attention in class - - when you even come - - and you’re always... sneaking around.”
Another example:
“Weren’t you telling me about those weapons? Let’s figure out how to get one of them. Surprise, yeah? I’ll stay here, and if something goes wrong, I’ll tell your family everything. There’s no magic on me.”
And then there's the overuse of "and" to connect multiple ideas:
"I don't understand why Juniper and Hazel and them can all learn how to talk to trees and make potions and do spells and I can't."
"But outside the standing stones, demons and broken spirits and the fallen roam, preying on humans-- although most people don't know their true nature."
These are all in the same speech bubbles, asserting different topics in a conversation without even an attempt to smoothly transition the topics together.
I could go on about how the dialogue makes scenes unintentionally hilarious and sometimes innuendous (“I have to reinforce the boundaries”) but I would be reading the book word for word at that point.
More character specific speech would have helped a lot. Everyone sounds the same.

In terms of story, the conflict in its entirety does not hold up the plot. Character relationships are weak, motivations are based on the aforementioned clumsy world building, and the villain’s identity and motive were obvious from the start.
The villain is so obviously Mikasi that I’m surprised the witches didn’t write his name onto the spell to begin with. There are literally no other suspects. You could argue it was “demons”, but seriously, they didn’t even mention an all powerful demon king as a suspect for the reader to consider as the mysterious baddie. I absolutely hated it when mikasi silences Aster after making a proposition with him (the spell is really picky with who Aster can’t speak to , btw. He can’t talk to his parents but he can talk to Charlie just fine. Charlie could’ve just told everyone what was going on). If Mikasi’s deal with Aster was actually worth considering, he wouldn’t have to silence Aster. It’s like the story even knows its conflict is weak. This deal with the devil does nothing to test the protagonist’s values.

The art. Is rushed. Ostertag really loves her mid shots, yet she rushes the character expressions. There are so many times where a character should’ve been drawn with emotional intensity to really sell his feelings to the reader- and yet, they’re drawn with the most mundane expressions that lack conviction. Character acting is lacking!! The environments are rushed, the creature designs are not informed, and the costume designs are meh. Emotionally charging scenes like Mikasi transforming in Aster’s room should be moments of visual magic. And yet the rushed quality makes the scenes fall flat.

Handling of diversity and representation is half hearted and lacks nuance. I don’t know how to feel about a white lady drawing and writing a story that borrows a lot of Spirit Animal imagery. I’m highly doubtful that Ostertag consulted a Native American/ First Nations person on how to appropriately handle that. Ignorant at best, appropriation at worst.

The handling of gender fluidity/ transness is just. So. Heavy handed. This is boy magic, this is girl magic, don’t cross the streams or bad things happen. The world building is just so transparent and on the nose that in its simplistic explanation of transness it downplays its depth.

The story constantly gets the idea of gendered activities and gender identity mixed up. Sometimes the story shows Aster as a boy who wants to do a traditionally feminine thing. Which implies that anyone could practice witchery or shapeshifting if they wanted to. But other times the story treats magic as this inherently intrinsic thing. Aster doesn't just not want to do boy magic, he physically CAN'T. He doesn't have shapeshifter dreams and he isn't approached by an animal spirit in the rite of passage ceremony. Basically whenever the story gets these two ideas mixed up, the metaphor falls apart. It's kind of like saying that if a boy wants to do ballet he's Actually A Girl On The Inside. It sounds silly, but cis people write stuff like this all the time.

It's why moments like when Aster brings up his confusion with accepting Mikasi’s deal play out so weirdly. The whole scene is set up as a transparent metaphor for what its like to compromise one's queerness for familial acceptance. But how does Charlie respond to Aster's crisis? She brings up how Aster's promised to fix her leg. Aster is going through a literal deal with the devil on whether or not he should conform to his boyhood or not, and Charlie just brings up how his feminine magic could benefit HER. A clumsy metaphor!

For a story that's basically an allegory for gender identity & queerness, queer characters don't take prominent roles in the story. There's 2 gay couples in this story, one that's mentioned (not shown) and one that you'd only know existed if you kept an eye out for the family tree in the beginning. You wouldn't know they were a couple otherwise. In contrast, straight couples are explicitly shown to be parents and lovers.

Just chalk this book up there on my list of “cis women gotta stop writing about trans experiences” YA/all-ages books.

The Witch Boy leaves a lot to be desired.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews205 followers
December 29, 2020
At 13-ish, Aster has reached the age when boys in his magical family begin to shapeshift into fierce animals who can protect their clans. Aster hasn't shifted yet -- and what's more, he doesn't really want to. He's drawn to the witchcraft his sister and female cousins are being taught. His family is rigidly devoted to their gender divide, and he's both discouraged and mocked at his every attempt to learn spells. But when a monster threatens his family, Aster is determined to help keep everyone safe, even if his talents aren't exactly acceptable.
This book is both powerful and charming! I absolutely loved the artwork -- it's perfect for this sweet, taut story.

I don't want to say too much about it, because turning the pages and finding out what happens next was a delight for me.

This is an awesome story about being gender non-conforming, but it's also just a really good story, period. I found the worldbuilding and mythology to be mostly very satisfactory. My only complaint was

Aster's family all share a huge house owned by Grandmother and occupied by her, her four daughters, and their partners and children. Everyone acts like a family, both affectionate towards and taking jabs at each other. I did find myself grumbling at keeping track of so many people with plant names (and yes, there's a Holly), and also at so many redheads -- I laughed when Grandmother says to Aster, "Which one are you?", because I spent the first half of the book constantly flipping back to the family tree at the front, and thank goodness it's there!

The library copy of this book is well-read and beat up, and I'm glad so many kids who might need a story like this are finding it.

Highly recommended if you like graphic novels, stories about gender non-conformance, and/or sweet middle-grade books about family and friendship. Especially if you've ever wanted to see all those kinds of stories in one volume.
Profile Image for Bogi Takács.
Author 53 books566 followers
February 11, 2018
This was nice, the kind of gender representation that might even fly with right-wing parents just because it's mostly super-not-declaredly but-still-quite-clearly trans. (I live in Kansas. These books are needed.) Probably not going to review it at length for now, because I have a lot of other things to review, but it might go into my SFF comics highlights of 2017 (I'm still working on that one).

Thank you Nino for recommending it :)

Source of the book: Lawrence Public Library
Profile Image for Emma.
911 reviews869 followers
June 6, 2020
This was such a nice first volume in this magical series about Aster, a boy who wants to be a witch even though it's considered something that only women can be. The family relationships were nice and I also liked the friendship that Aster developed. I believe this volume sets a lot in motion for the next installments in the series and I'm curious to see how it will all planned out.
Profile Image for Madison.
607 reviews329 followers
January 5, 2018
This one is a miss for me. I love Molly Ostertag's work generally and I very much want to see her succeed in everything she does, but I found this book seriously lacking. The worldbuilding is thin at best, and the whole "boys like fighing and girls like gardening" schtick is ridiculously heavy-handed. I know she set up that dynamic in order to dismantle it, but the needlessly and tiresomely over-gendered characters don't make her point so much as clumsily march through a forest of predictable cliches. It reads a little bit like something a well-meaning person would have written in 1995 as an allegory to coming out to one's parents as gay.

I'm all for stories where boys like traditionally "girly" stuff, and I think we need more of them! I applaud the effort here. However, it just doesn't work.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
October 31, 2018
A pretty sweet and colorful and lively middle grades graphic novel to help kids question gender roles. A boy wants to be a witch, as the girls in his society will become, instead of what all the boys will become, which is a shapeshifter. He has to perform spells (against the rules in his society) to save a friend. When he does this he discovers his desire to be a witch is connected like someone else's in his family history.

Reminded me a bit of Billy Elliot, whom, you may recall, wanted to dance ballet though his father wanted him:

Profile Image for Erica ♋️✨.
477 reviews77 followers
March 4, 2020
This graphic novel was so good omg. I have been wanting to read this graphic novel for so long and i finally got it from the library and i absolutely loved it. The characters were all so unique and so adorable. I loved the Witch and shapeshifter aspect of it. I can’t wait to continue on with this series.
Profile Image for Sara the Librarian.
746 reviews323 followers
November 17, 2017
A delightful coming of age tale about the son of magic users who's grown up in a world where women do magic and men shape shift. Neither must ever meddle in the other's affairs but of course our hero, Aster knows its his destiny to be a witch like his mother and sister. When the boys in his family begin to disappear its clear that something dark and powerful is preying upon them and Aster, with the help of his new human friend Charlie, is the only one who can save them.

This was wonderful. Molly Knox Ostertag is the genius behind my favorite web comic "Strong Female Protagonist" which if you haven't read...just go read it its wonderful and the illustrator behind Sharon Shinn's first graphic novel Shattered Warrior which I had mixed feelings about story wise but certainly not art wise.

Ostertag has written a wise and very sweet allegorical fable about not being afraid to be what and who you truly are even when everyone in your life is saying its impossible. She's also created a really neat mythology for her characters and I finished this story absolutely wanting to learn more about this world. There's something really warm in the way she draws, everything feels very inviting and cozy in the big ramshackle house Aster lives in with his huge extended family and she loves dressing her characters in bright colors with lots of layers and baubles. There's just a tad of dreaminess to things too. Her villains are definitely frightening but they have an old world fairy tale quality to them that made me think of Arthurian legends and stories like St. George and the Dragon.

This was a thrilling debut for a truly talented young woman who I very much look forward to following for what I hope will be a long and very successful career!
Profile Image for Mikey Golczynski.
357 reviews4 followers
April 18, 2018
Yay, inclusion! Boo...heavy handed messages...

This graphic novel lacks any sort of subtlety when addressing the issue of gender. It punches the reader in the mouth and continues to kick it about the head and neck as it goes on. I get it. There shouldn't be gender in play. Boys and girls can do whatever they want. I'm all for that message, I could care less if my boys play with dolls. Really, who cares? But if the author wants her message to be effective, she needs to take her foot off the gas and let it sink in naturally. Reading this was like being tied to a chair and force fed kale because "it's good for me" until I explode. It's not as if the art saves it either, it's mediocre at best with physical proportions on faces and bodies being slightly out of whack.
Profile Image for HorrorBabe911.
93 reviews22 followers
November 13, 2022
Superb illustrations. Liked it, can’t wait to read the next installment.

This story is told from the POV of a boy who wants to be a witch but is told he can’t be because he’s a boy, not a girl. He’s destined to be a shapeshifter like all the men but he doesn’t quite fit in. His perseverance in studying the secrets of the witches lands him in a tough spot with his family—which ultimately leads him to choose a side to help his family fight an evil lurking around their woods.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
227 reviews33 followers
July 29, 2018
I had wanted to read this after seeing so much excitement. To me, this book is about gender essentialism and the way it harms the people you're trying to force it on.

I liked the art, and was glad to see lots of brown skinned (though I think they're black people) in the book.

It's a MG graphic novel, which I didn't know going in. So if you're into that demographic, check this out.
Profile Image for Anna Kay.
1,321 reviews154 followers
March 24, 2019
Really enjoyed the story. Very well drawn, cute middle grade art style and the characters were wonderfully distinctive. I thought it dealt with the issue of enforced gender roles/stereotypes in a natural way, that wasn't pushy. Overall a cute graphic novel for tweens or teens. I'll be continuing with the series.
Profile Image for Nat.
553 reviews3,176 followers
May 5, 2020
This is what I mean when I say I want more witch stories. Plus, the art is beautifully aligned to the storyline.

Check it out through my Amazon affiliate link:

Visit bookspoils.com for more book discussions and reviews.
Profile Image for Rachael Hobson.
457 reviews17 followers
July 29, 2017
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

This is a really lovely story. It's a morality story with a magical twist. Let people be who they truly are!

This is a middle grade novel, which is probably why the story moved as fast as it did. I personally wish there was more detail in regards to both the build up and climax of the story.
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur.
1,046 reviews148 followers
November 21, 2020
Aster, a thirteen year old boy is expected to be a shapeshifter as all the other men in the family but Aster likes the witchcraft. But Aster can't be a witch as only the women can be witches. Aster runs into Charlie who is a non-magic human and Aster and Charlie become friends. They both end up helping each other.

Aster's male cousins start to get kidnapped one by one but no one knows why until Aster finds out the reason and helps free his cousins using witchcraft that he learnt by watching his female cousins and other females in the family. His grandmother helps the family understand that Aster should be allowed to do what he wants and not force the shapeshifting just because he's born a boy.

This was a very sweet story that helps people understand not to stereotype any gender and people should be allowed to do what they want and what they are good at as opposed to what they are expected to do. And the illustrations were amazing. I loved this.

5 stars
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