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The Witch Boy #3

The Midwinter Witch

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The acclaimed graphic novel world of The Witch Boy and The Hidden Witch comes to a thrilling conclusion in this story of friendship, family, and finding your true power. Magic has a dark side . . .Aster always looks forward to the Midwinter Festival, a reunion of the entire Vanissen family that includes competitions in witchery and shapeshifting. This year, he's especially excited to compete in the annual Jolrun tournament-as a witch. He's determined to show everyone that he's proud of who he is and what he's learned, but he knows it won't be easy to defy tradition.Ariel has darker things on her mind than the Festival-like the mysterious witch who's been visiting her dreams, claiming to know the truth about Ariel's past. She appreciates everything the Vanissens have done for her. But Ariel still craves a place where she truly belongs.The Festival is a whirlwind of excitement and activity, but for Aster and Ariel, nothing goes according to plan. When a powerful and sinister force invades the reunion, threatening to destroy everything the young witches have fought for, can they find the courage to fight it together? Or will dark magic tear them apart?

203 pages, Paperback

First published November 5, 2019

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About the author

Molly Knox Ostertag

39 books1,699 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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5 stars
3,540 (45%)
4 stars
3,091 (39%)
3 stars
1,010 (13%)
2 stars
85 (1%)
1 star
27 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 905 reviews
Profile Image for Calista.
3,880 reviews31.2k followers
December 15, 2019
I feel like Molly wrote this story with me in mind as the reader. It's perfect.

I have been waiting for this and I find out this is the 3rd volume in the series and so I have to go back and pick up the 2nd volume. I simply adore this series.

It says this is the conclusion, but it doesn't feel like an ending. This is a great story and I want more. I want to know more of this world and what's going on and I want to see more Aster. There needs to be more of these.

This is a wonderful story. It's a Billy Elliot troupe. Girls are witches and yet Aster can do magic, so it's a bit shocking.

I love the Midwinter setting. It doesn't say, but I guess Midwinter is either Yule or Candlemas/imbulc. Deep snow and a festivle to celebrate magic. It sounds simply lovely.

This is written for Middle grade readers, but I enjoyed this as much as a tween might. It's a good story. I am a huge fan of Molly Ostertag and I will follow her to future stories. I do wish she would change her mind and write more in this series. It's like it's written just for me.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
December 9, 2019
I know there are a lot of comics series and graphic novels out right now about the Power of Magic to Do Good in the World (that Harry Potter milieu), all that facing down the Dark Arts and/or Black Magic, but I happen to be reading two of them, including the manga series Witch Hat Atelier and this one, which I just learn is concluded! Witch Hat has dramatic swirling crazy detailed imaginative art work, and this (Western) one is Noelle Stevenson-style, brightly colored, Scholastic-designed and highly promoted in these parts.

Witch Hat has appeals to younger readers--the main girl is much younger, there's little cute "brush buddy" worm-like creatures and so on--but the world (as drawn and conceived) is far more detailed and elaborate and complex, appealing to a wider range of readers, I think. Midwinter Witch is maybe a middle-grades book, focused on all kinds of diversity and gender identity and is also more narrowly focused on a smaller group of characters, with a narrower field of action, and surely visually simpler.

Witch is about a boy, Aster, who wants to be a witch in a world where boys become shape-shifters (think: Billy Elliot, yay!). The action brings Aster's family and their adopted daughter Ariel to the Midwinter Festival. Guess who is gonna be the Midwinter Witch?! Ariel faces a struggle with someone in her past, maybe someone of the dark magic ilk? She, too, has a dark streak; will she give into it or choose family? Guess what happens?!

This had the potential to be a much longer series and ends a bit abruptly for my taste. I was hoping it might explore deeper implications of all this gender complexity and dark vs light magic. But it's still good, likable work.
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,288 reviews173 followers
November 21, 2019
A solid middle volume in what I hope will be a long-running series. Aster continues to struggle against his mother's expectations by taking his nonconformity with gender roles public at a large family reunion. And a new villain is introduced who I hope to see more fully fleshed out in a future volume. Even if the adventure this outing did not have me on the edge of my seat, I'm still quite enthralled with characters and the world being built here.

p.s. Oh, wait, having posted my review I see now that the description on Goodreads says this is the conclusion. Well, that sucks, because while this is a good book, it does not feel like a conclusion at all. I'll be very disappointed if this is truly the end of the series.
December 22, 2019

I really hope this isn’t the end of the series. I mean, it can’t be. There’s so much more to explore in this world!

Another fun, inclusive read. I can’t wait for more of these books. 4.75/5 stars.
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur.
1,046 reviews148 followers
September 25, 2021
Aster and Ariel are attending magic classes with Aster's family and Charlie and Sedge attend the local school now. A family festival is coming up and Aster's mother invites Ariel as Ariel is now their ward. Ariel doesn't want to attend but when Charlie insists she wants to go, Ariel also thinks it to be a good idea.

At the festival each year, one boy is crowned the midwinter shifter and one girl is crowned the midwinter witch. Aster wants to take part but his mother refuses as she thinks that people might make fun of Aster and Aster might not cope with that.

Meanwhile, Ariel is visited by her biological aunt in dreams and she tells Ariel that she should come and live with her as being her aunt she can train her better than the Vanissens. She also tells Ariel that Ariel's magic is dark unlike Vanissens. Ariel refuses initially but when she takes part in the Jolrun (competition for the midwinter witch), she defeats Aster and Aster gets mad at her. So Ariel decides to go with her aunt but Aster's mother is aware that Ariel's family steals magic off other people and sometimes their own family members and they save Ariel from going with her aunt.

I am absolutely loving this series. There's not a single thing that I don't like. I love the illustrations, love the story, love the character development and the deep rooted secrets of family and magic. I can't wait to read the next when it comes out and here's hoping that this isn't the last book in the series.

5 stars
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews205 followers
February 2, 2021
The gang from the previous two books in this series -- Aster, his cousin Sedge, their friends Charlie and Ariel, and the entire Vanissen family -- head to an annual family reunion/Midwinter festival. Aster is especially excited, since he plans to be the first boy to compete in the “Jolrun,” a magic contest for the younger teen witches. But trouble just can’t stay away, and shows up from both outside the friends, and from within.
I enjoyed this book just as much as the first two! I can’t say too much without giving spoilers for the earlier books. It has the same bountiful charm, and the same great insights into what will test people and threaten to break their spirits, and their friendships. The tension was thick. And as always, the resolution is heartwarming and sweet. I love these characters, the way they interact, their families, and the entire setting of this world.

The blurb for this says it is the last book in this series, but I am really, really hoping that the author will find these characters demanding that some more stories be told and drawn about them, and obey!
Profile Image for Maia.
Author 27 books2,264 followers
October 19, 2019
I was lucky enough to get a black and white advanced reader copy of this at BookExpo. The series continues to be extremely charming, with the characters facing challenges in the magical world which are often very easy metaphors for queer experiences. As the main character friend group has grown larger, each character's story arc is a bit shorter because the author must balance out more character's time on the page. But I am still very captivated by this series and glad that this book ended in a way which leaves room for more!
Profile Image for Rummanah (Books in the Spotlight).
1,370 reviews15 followers
November 21, 2019
A somewhat solid conclusion to a good middle grade graphic novel series. It could have benefited with it being a little longer because the ending felt rushed and the villain introduced did not have much character growth.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,599 reviews192 followers
October 19, 2020
4.5 stars. More wonderful stuff! Friendship, self-confidence issues, anger, resistance to change, gorgeous artwork.....what’s not to love in the continuing story of witch Aster, and his friends Charlie (not magical, but totally will not give up on you, ever), shifter Sedge (growing in confidence and exploring everything he can), and Ariel (really not eager to trust and powerful witch)?
The Midwinter festival and the competition for Witch Queen and Shifter King is tough, and Aster is determined to compete, despite his mother’s contrary wishes. Ariel and Charlie attend, too, and Ariel has a chance to open herself to Aster’s big family, even with her biological aunt making an appearance.
The conflict and arguments felt real, and I liked how the four kids came together to deal with their issues.
Profile Image for Erica.
1,331 reviews435 followers
December 23, 2019
This third installment in "The Witch Boy" series is as adorable as the others.

In this go 'round, it's time for Winter Solstice celebrations which means I timed this perfectly, reading it two days before the 2019 Winter Solstice.

Since Ariel is now going to school at the Vanissen house, she is invited to the family reunion in a mountain chalet where leylines converge. There will be snowball fights, food and singing (I assume), and competitions for the witches and the shapers. Since Ariel's not quite comfortable going on her own, she asks if Charlie can come so now there's a non-magic-user in the mix and nobody seems to mind. I thought that was really cool.
And then we learn that family can really suck.

I love the heavy focus on friendship in these stories, particularly the bond Charlie and Aster share. It looks like there may be a romance building between Charlie and Ariel but I can't tell for sure. I also appreciated seeing Aster's mom wanting the best for all these kids but making some wrong decisions based on her fears rather than the kids' needs, something she later apologizes for. It's always good to see responsible, caring, level-headed adults make mistakes and it's just as good to see those same adults being accountable for said mistakes.
Mostly, I need to join this family so I can go to that charming little chalet on solstices.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews112 followers
April 5, 2020
4 stars

I absolutely adore Molly Ostertag and everything about this story. The art style is so gorgeous and homey and it gives off a very nice vibe that I am a very big fan of. I also really love the message of this story and I think it wraps up the series really nicely. I loved the setting, which felt incredibly atmospheric and made me want to go back to winter and the simpler times. The characters own my heart and I absolutely adore the way the found family trope is done in this book and it makes me tear up whenever I think about it. In conclusion, The Witch Boy series deserves the world and I will not be taking criticism at this time.
Profile Image for Rick.
2,383 reviews
December 27, 2019
I was able to get a hold of an uncorrected proof of this book (THANK YOU Ali!). Yeah, it's not in color, but I can wait for that. But the story was a wonderful continuation with more characterization and more interesting twists for Aster and his friends. The blurb on the book makes it feel like a conclusion, and while it could be an ending, I'm really hoping it is not. I really like these characters and I would LOVE to see more stories as they grow, get older and more advanced with their skills.
Profile Image for Michael.
645 reviews
June 5, 2020
Such a touching story. The boy who wants to break gender expectations to be a witch. The orphan friend with massive power who only wants to belong.

This is a great story of temptation and acceptance. And the artwork is emotive and beautiful.

Love it.
Profile Image for Emma Gill.
126 reviews
November 25, 2019
Honestly, I didn't love this graphic novel. Overall, it kept me occupied but it's not a favorite.
Profile Image for ivy francis.
548 reviews27 followers
November 29, 2019
The Midwinter Witch was the perfect conclusion one of the best graphic novel series. Molly Knox Ostertag’s books are perfect for middle grade readers as well as any other interested parties (Every queer person will love The Witch Boy.) The art is warm and inviting, the story strong and intelligent, and the characters are sweet, well-rounded, and genuine. Fans of the other two books are sure to enjoy this third, packed with magic, snow, and snow magic.
Profile Image for Jennifer Mangler.
1,357 reviews13 followers
November 10, 2019
Flint: "Aren't you embarrassed? It's not normal."
Aster: "You keep saying that like it's a bad thing."

That exchange is why I love The Witch Boy series so much. The friend group celebrates each other's differences. The characters find joy in what makes them unique, even when others might not. Tradition is important, but so is following your own path.

Profile Image for Eti.
124 reviews19 followers
August 26, 2020
Did I cry while reading this book during lunch before our The Hidden Witch book club this afternoon? Yes, yes I did. A truly satisfying conclusion to a powerful series about identity, self-acceptance, being . yourself, being an ally, changing your community, and more, all through the metaphors of magic and transformation.
Profile Image for Mark Robison.
1,015 reviews73 followers
August 20, 2021
I'd contribute to a Kickstarter for the author to expand the universe she's created here. At the end of the trilogy, I wanted more. It's such a wonderful world. All of the bad behavior of the real world is still there, but there are people who have strategies for confronting the bad that gave me a case of the feels.

It's definitely a middle-school graphic novel with fairly simple art and broadstroke storytelling, but I still enjoyed this tale of a boy who feels like a witch even though most of the world believes only girls are witches while boys are shapeshifters. The trans symbolism is strong but not didactic or heavy-handed. The plot of this one has an angry girl moving into the community and causing trouble and pain while there's an annual festival where the main character competes as a witch to the tsking of many.
Profile Image for Katri.
754 reviews85 followers
July 12, 2021
En edes tiedä miten onnistuin lukemaan The Witch Boy -sarjakuvasarjan KOLMANNEN osan ensimmäisenä?!

No. Nyt on luettu. Ajattelinkin, että tämä alkoi vähän oudosti.

Tämä oli kiva nuorten sarjis, mutta suunnattu selkeästi nuoremmille, kuin mitä olin ajatellut. Ehkä ennemmin 12-vuotiaille kuin 15-vuotiaille.
Profile Image for erin.
490 reviews310 followers
December 16, 2020

although I enjoyed the previous two books, I wasn't "disappointed" in this one. I'm sad the series is over because I loved it so much, but all good things must come to an end right.
Profile Image for Damon Kimball.
28 reviews2 followers
January 8, 2020
I absolutely loved this book i hope to read more of these books when they come out but I loved it because I love the magic in this and the detail they put in to it
Profile Image for Kajree Gautom.
572 reviews
November 17, 2021
While this one was fun, it ended too abruptly and I wish more could have been delved about Ariel and her past. It was still fun though.
Profile Image for Laura.
2,698 reviews80 followers
March 13, 2020
This was a good story, just not a great story.

The first book in the series had much more heart and soul, as the Witch Boy tried to do something that boys were forbidden doing, and seemed to be the equivalent of how trans people feel.

By the third book, in this trilogy, the story has gone over to how a child who grew up outside of a witch family would feel. And while there is nothing wrong with it, but it just wasn't quite the sorrow and heart pull as the first one did.
Profile Image for Andreia Magalhães.
354 reviews1 follower
October 16, 2022
4 ⭐

🇬🇧 These graphic novels are too pure and far too good, so much so that they lack any imperfection, leaving no space for critique and no other choice than to devour, rejoice and adore them!

🇵🇹 Estas graphic novels são muito puras e demaisado boas, tanto que carecem de qualquer imperfeição, não deixam espaço para críticas e nenhuma outra escolha a não ser devorá-las, regozijá-las e adorá-las!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 905 reviews

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