The Okay Witch is a page-turner of a graphic novel about an unlikely witch just discovering the truth about her new powers and her family’s centuries-old history as outcasts in a small Massachusetts town. 13-year-old Moth is a relatable heroine with quirks, insecurities, and a wicked sense of humor. The crisp vibrant illustrations perfectly capture Moth’s larger-than-life emotions and the kinetics of her journey. From the bright colors of Moth’s cozy home, to the drab earth tones of 1600’s New England, to the cool pastels of ethereal Hecate (the mystical realm of witches), the changing color pallets beautifully express changes in mood and energy from scene to scene and across various settings.
I especially love how the panels are composed to convey spot-on comedic timing in some scenes, and a hushed sense of wonder in other scenes. Despite all the supernatural content, this story portrays some very realistic mother-daughter relationship challenges. Anyone who has ever felt dismissed, underestimated, or disallowed from seeking adventure will surely find a friend in Moth.
If you are a fan of Arya Stark, this is the book for you! Set about 10 years after the events in Kushner’s first “Riverside” novel (Swordspoint), but you don’t need to have read the first one to enjoy this swashbuckling coming-of-age story (although you should, because it’s terrific!). The central issues of whether women in a Victorian-ish society have their own honor, unconnected to that of their male relatives, and of a girl first pushed past societal limits and then finding she prefers life without those limits, were handled very well – not at all preachy or heavy-handed. A pleasure to read throughout!
Walton takes the Victorian social novel to new levels by making dragons the main characters. Suddenly, all of the social conventions of the age are backed by biological necessities – the need to have gold for one’s hoard, the need to have a parent’s estate (that is, their body…) divided fairly so one can eat it to grow and survive, a tell-tale change in the body that shows to all if a female has been in close contact with a male. All of this, plus the fact that social faux pas can lead to being eaten instead of just shunned, raises the stakes considerably, and creates a wholly original and entertaining story!