Reviewed by Ambrea
I picked up The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag on a whim. I saw it hanging around the Teen Library and I thought, “Why not?” It has magic, colorful panels, interesting characters and, even better, an intriguing story.
In Aster’s family, girls are raised to become witches while boys are trained to become shapeshifters—and anyone who dares to upset this balance is promptly exiles. Unfortunately, Aster has a knack for witchery and, despite reaching his thirteenth birthday, he’s yet to shapeshifte like the other boys. But when a mysterious creature threats his family and abducts the other boys, Aster knows he can help—not as a shapeshifter, but as a witch.
I really enjoyed reading The Witch Boy. It reminds me of other graphic novels I’ve read, such as Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and The Lumberjanes (which also happens to be created by Stevenson), because it has such bright colors and a lovely sense of humor and, more importantly, it’s a story with a big heart. I loved reading about Aster’s journey, as he comes to terms with his talent for witchery—as he struggles with his family history and his future within his family.
I love fantasy and magic anyway, so it was incredibly easy to fall in love with Ostertag’s book and the characters she created. Moreover, it’s a heartwarming story about love, acceptance, friendship and finding one’s place within the world. I mean, how could I not fall in love with something so sweet and wholesome and, well, good?
I will note that the graphic novel falls under the category of “middle grade.” Although I found The Witch Boy to be complex enough to keep me entertained, it is geared for a younger audience. The language and the content can sometimes reflect this; however, I think Ostertag’s book definitely deserves a chance, especially if you’re looking for something light and fun and heartwarming.