The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow

S. & S./Aladdin. (The Okay Witch: Bk. 2). Jul. 2021. 256p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781534431492.
Gr 4-8–After the climatic events of The Okay Witch, Moth Hush, a 13-year-old frizzy-haired witch, is adrift in a sea of changes. Her mother and her grandmother have put aside their differences to help Moth come into her magic; the bullies at school make Moth feel more ostracized than ever; and, horrors, Moth’s mom is dating the school’s goofiest teacher. Moth just wants to fit in, but she promised her mother she’d never use her magic at school. When Moth finds a magical amulet that seemingly brings out a more confident, effervescent self, it seems like her problems are solved. But when the amulet’s consciousness assumes a body, complete with its own menacing powers, Moth realizes she’s awakened the demon known as the Hungry Shadow. Steinkellner explores grievance, forgiveness, and moving on, building to a final act that’s just as engaging and explosive as its predecessor. The anime-esque tone has been amplified as well: The wealth of dynamic panels and cinematic sequences, combined with a lovable cast unafraid to monologue, combine for a love letter to magical girl stories. While still remaining approachable to younger readers, this is a wordier graphic novel compared to most middle grade titles. Meditations on bullying and racism, the experience of being torn between being oneself and what one wants to be, and soliloquies on the positive interactions that can be taken from otherwise problematic traditions might fly over the heads of Moth’s youngest fans. Moth and her family are Black.
VERDICT A satisfying, brilliant sequel, solidifying Steinkellner’s reputation as a graphic novelist to watch.

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