Book Review

Mini(bot) Reviews: The Witch Boy & The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World

Time for a couple more mini-reviews – a book I quite enjoyed and a book that turned out to be rather a huge disappointment.

Let’s start with the good, shall we? My Ducky gifted me a graphic novel from my wishlist and I’m happy to say it lived up to my expectations.

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag
My Edition: Paperback – 218 pages – 2017 – Scholastic – ISBN: 9781338089516

Aster’s family practices magic – the girls are trained to be witches and the boys are shape-shifters. But Aster finds the magic his sisters and female cousins get to learn much more intriguing than the magic he’s being taught, so he sneaks into lessons whenever he can. Aster’s family is constantly trying to stop Aster from learning witch magic, but when some of the boys start disappearing Aster’s skills might prove useful – if he can break tradition and use them.

You know I’m going to comment first on the art style. I was lured by the plot of this graphic novel, but I wouldn’t have wanted to read it if I didn’t like Ostertag’s style. I also really enjoyed the font choice.

I enjoyed the different styles of magic represented in this book and Aster’s determination to break with tradition. I’m seeing a lot more diversity in the comics/graphic novels I’m reading (perhaps it’s because there’s more representation lately in what I’m interested in, or what I’m finding interesting are the ones with more representation) and The Witch Boy is no exception. I loved the characters, especially Aster, and the plot was compelling – I think there’s a lot of material that could be used sequels and spin-offs. The sequel is already on its way to me. If you’re looking a modern fantasy graphic novel with a POC main character with a fluid sense of fashion, I highly recommend this.

Bonus pics:

Ostertag’s website

The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World by Brian Allen Carr
My Edition: Paperback – 121 pages – 2014 – Lazy Fascist – ISBN: 9781621051466

In the small town of Scrape, Texas, strange things begin happening. A crying ghostly woman and her hoard of ghost children appear. Black, hairy, spider-like hands follow, ripping apart anyone they can find. Then the old man with the whip that makes people disappear. And finally, the devil.

I maybe could have done a better job on the blurb for this, but the book was so disappointing and forgettable that I don’t have much to say. I’m really only mentioning it because Sip made my 2018 favorites list and I had high expectations for this one.

The first disappointment: It’s not a novel. It’s definitely a novella and I feel mislead.

The rest of the disappointments: The novel is written in pretty sparse prose – more like little snippets, sometimes just one sentence on a page. Not a style I go in for. The majority of the character development was done through dialogue, which did give me a decent grasp on the characters. However, due to the length of the book, when they started dying, I couldn’t care less. It wasn’t really scary or even creepy, except for the hands, but basically, because I pictured them more like spiders, which terrify me already. I definitely didn’t understand the ending.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend this and I’m still really salty that the title literally contains the word novel, yet the book is a measly 120 pages! I’m glad this was a gift and I didn’t spend my own money on it.

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