Putnam. Sept. 2022. 288p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780593112168. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9780593112182.
Gr 9 Up–Sixteen-year-old Emsy’s whole life—school, surfing, her girlfriend, Joss—is in California. So when her parents move her back to their New York state witch coven after 12 years, Em is far from happy. But something, or someone, has killed the family protecting the grimoire (a sacred tome of the coven’s secrets and spells), leaving only one member behind. Sole survivor Ben is resentful of Emsy, whose mother passed the guardian role to his family when she left. Em and Ben form a prickly friendship, with easygoing coven member Ash rounding out the teenagers of the dwindling community. As Em struggles mightily to reconcile the pieces of her old life (where she considered her fire manipulation powers “party tricks”) with her new one (daily elemental magic training and illicit study of a necromancy spell book), tragedy befalls her mother, leading Ben and Emsy to embark on the riskiest of plans to resurrect those they’ve lost with dark magic. This graphic novel moves slowly at first, then picks up to an exciting, twisty conclusion rich with possibilities for a sequel. Em is sharp in her frustration, embodying relatable feelings of teen powerlessness and rebellion in the face of enormous change. Seaton’s art augments the plot and converses seamlessly with the text, though it doesn’t take many risks—fairly uniform panel size and typography evoke the style of vintage superhero comics. The illustrations liven up as conflict rises to a visually stunning climax, with arresting images of death witches, dark spirits, and zombified visages. Emsy and Ben are cued as white; Ash and his family have brown skin and black hair.
VERDICT An engaging queer teen witch story that doesn’t shy away from the realistic tensions of loss and uncertainty among the supernatural action. Recommended for teen graphic novel collections.

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