Cold War Correspondent by Nathan Hale

Cold War Correspondent Book Cover

Information

Goodreads: Cold War Correspondent
Series: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #11
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2021

Official Summary

Discover the Korean War through the eyes of the journalist who covered it in this installment of the New York Times bestselling graphic novel series

In 1950, Marguerite Higgins (1920–1966) was made bureau chief of the Far East Asia desk for the New York Herald Tribune. Tensions were high on the Korean peninsula, where a border drawn after WWII split the country into North and South. When the North Korean army crossed the border with Soviet tanks, it was war. Marguerite was there when the Communists captured Seoul. She fled with the refugees heading south, but when the bridges were blown over the Han River, she was trapped in enemy territory. Her eyewitness account of the invasion was a newspaper smash hit. She risked her life in one dangerous situation after another––all for the sake of good story. Then she was told that women didn’t belong on the frontlines. The United States Army officially ordered her out of Korea. She appealed to General Douglas MacArthur, and he personally lifted the ban on female war correspondents, which allowed her the chance to report on many of the major events of the Korean War. 

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Review

Cold War Correspondent brings readers to the start of the Korean War, to see it from the perspective of war journalist Marguerite Higgins.  Though Higgins encounters pushback from men who believe women do not belong on the front lines, she perseveres, rushing into danger time and again to get her story.  Following Higgins’ experiences allows Hale to expand the focus of his historical tales to include stories from participants other than white men (something he has begun to do more consciously in the most recent installments in the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series). It also gives a bit of a human face to a story that otherwise, frankly, just has a lot of guys shooting at tanks.  Cold War Correspondent once again, brilliantly, makes history come alive for readers.  I have to admit, though, that the books focused on war strategy tend to be my least favorite in the series.

Since I am a huge fan of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, I have eagerly been awaiting Cold War Correspondent since I learned of its release date.  Having a story about a female reporter (in a time when it was much more rare) also seemed really cool!  The actual reading experience was not quite what I was expecting, though.  I really wanted more of Higgins–and less of the soldiers she was writing about.  The human experiences are what I find most interesting about history, not warfare technology or even the overall plan to push back the advancing North Korean army.  I wanted to know what it was like to be Higgins, writing in a man’s world.  Some of that is there (though I got the impression that a lot of the crasser sexism was toned down for the children).  But, in the end, it did not really feel like this was Higgins’ story.  It was just a bigger story about war strategy and a poorly armed resistance that she happened to appear in periodically.

Readers who enjoy war stories will probably love this one more than I.  In fact, I get the impression that Nathan Hale really likes war stories, since we get so many of them from him.  In the end, I appreciated the effort to highlight a female reporter whom I am sure not many readers have heard of before.  And the effort to explain the start of a war that I imagine many Americans still not understand or find any meaning in.  As always, I learned something from Hale’s books–and that, I suppose, is the point.

3 Stars

Manu by Kelly Fernandez

Manu

Information

Goodreads: Manu
Series: None
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Publication Date: 2021

Summary

Manu is the resident troublemaker at an all-girls’ academy for witches, until the day a curse makes her lose her magical powers. Distraught at the idea of being without magic, Manu summons a demon to restore her powers. But Manu cannot control her too-strong magic and soon her presence endangers not only the academy but also the nearby town.

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Review

Manu by Kelly Fernandez joins a spate of middle grade graphic novels about witches that focus on changing friendships and recognition of one’s sexual identity. While the setting is novel–a girl’s school where apparently Catholic nuns teach witchcraft and pray to the saints–not much about the rest of the book stands out. Manu is a solid and a serviceable book, but not one I would recommend above its competition.

Readers, I suspect, will have varying reactions to Manu, based on sympathetic they are towards annoying characters. Though the storyline tries valiantly to make readers feel bad for Manu because the other students find her obnoxious, the reality is that Manu is obnoxious. And it is not just that she skips class and has trouble with authority. Manu repeatedly pulls “pranks” that end up causing physical injury to people and that her classmates are then obligated to clean up–which makes them feel like they are being punished for Manu’s crimes. The story keeps reminding readers that Manu is an orphan, an outsider–but no one in the story ever brings that up as an issue, until they reach a breaking point and are trying to explain Manu’s bad behavior. If Manu would stop hurting people, they undoubtedly would have no problem with her mysterious background. The students and townspeople are not exclusive or small-minded so much as they are fed up.

All this culminates with Manu making a pretty bad life decision by anyone’s standards–calling up an evil spirit to give her magical powers–leading to an epic showdown in which the sisters and her friend Josefina once again must clean up Manu’s mess. But the story ends with a feel-good message of acceptance of Manu (despite a shocking revelation about her past) and a hint at romance for Manu in the future. Probably Manu deserves none of this, but maybe that is the point. The love others have for her is unconditional.

The elements of the story will be nothing new to readers who are familiar with the current offerings of the middle grade graphic novel market. There is nothing that really makes Manu stand out or that would make it any sort of must-read for fans of the genre. It is a solid book, however, and for many that will be enough.

3 Stars

The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Retelling of The Secret Garden by Ivy Noelle Weir & Amber Padilla

The Secret Garden on 81st Street

Information

Goodreads: The Secret Garden on 81st Street
Series: None
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2021

Summary

After her parents’ deaths, Mary Lennox moves to New York City to live with her uncle. Unused to living in a tech free home, she discovers an abandoned rooftop garden and, with the help of her new friend, her babysitter’s brother Dickon, she begins to bring it back to life. Her cousin Colin, who stays in his room all day, also slowly discovers the magic of the garden. But will Mary’s uncle approve?

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Review

The Secret Garden on 81st Street updates Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved classic for a modern audience not only by diversifying the characters and changing the setting to New York City, but also by addressing topics such as loss, grief, and anxiety. The story is charming, but fervent fans of the original may find that some of the magic is lost in the book’s attempts to teach a lesson.

The original Secret Garden also has a moral at its heart, of course, but, somehow, Frances Hodgson Burnett never lets that detract from the story. Discussions of the work seldom mention the quasi-spiritual nature of the book, with its references and pleas to the Magic that makes things grow and, in turn, transforms Mary into a loving, vibrant little girl and makes her cousin Colin physically healthy again. Generations of readers instead seem attracted to the vision of nature presented by Burnett, and thee wonder it evokes. In contrast, The Secret Garden on 81st Street does not tap into that same source of wonder, instead preferring to focus on characters giving speeches about things the characters–and, in turn, readers–should know about mental health.

This modern retelling takes the events of the original and casts them in a new light, one reliant on updated understandings of mental health. Colin, for instance, now experiences anxiety and panic attacks that convince him it is safest for him to stay in his room. Characters like Martha and Mrs. Medlock spend a bit of time explaining the situation to Mary, letting her know that what Colin experiences is real, though she cannot see it. However, the realization of Colin’s experiences only really starts to make sense to Mary after the infamous episode in which she screams at Colin. In the original story, Mary’s tantrum shocks Colin into realizing he cannot always get his own way, and Burnett suggests that this is beneficial to him. In the updated version, Colin’s therapist takes Mary aside to explain that Mary’s screaming is not appropriate, and that she needs to let Colin decide for himself when he is ready to leave his room.

Mary herself gets a modern remake, transforming from a sullen, selfish little girl who has to learn kindness into one who is simply lonely and having difficulty admitting and expressing her grief. In this, she mirrors Colin and his father Archie, who are also dealing with the grief over Archie’s husband’s death in a way that is not altogether healthy. The story, then, moves away from a focus on the healing power of nature instead to a focus on recognizing that everyone deals with grief differently–but that it can help to talk about it and to confront it.

Though Mary does plant a garden in The Secret Garden on 81st Street, the garden really seems somewhat extraneous to the plot. Mary could have engaged in any activity that got the family interested in participating together and thus bonding with each other. The sheer love of nature Burnett seems to have is, frankly, not really captured by a few apparent blog posts Mary makes about what flower or herb she planted recently. And the bulk of the story is really focused more on adults teaching Mary about mental health and grief. There is powerful stuff in here–it is just not about nature.

The Secret Garden on 81st Street is a charming enough tale. However, readers should not expect it to be quite the same thing as The Secret Garden. The story is really all its own–with a new setting, new takes on the characters, and a new focus meant to draw out the inner experiences of the characters in a more direct way. It is an interpretation worth reading–and I think the target audience especially will enjoy it.

3 Stars

Salt Magic by Hope Larson & Rebecca Mock

Salt Magic

Information

Goodreads: Salt Magic
Series: None
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2021

Summary

When Vonceil’s older brother Elber returns to their Oklahoma farm after the end of WWI, Vonceil imagines things will go back to the way they were before. But Elber has changed. He’s serious and grown-up now, and he even proposes to his boring girlfriend. Then a sophisticated woman arrives all the way from France, looking for Elber–and she is furious to find Elber married. The witch curses the family’s well so it turns to salt water and, now the town people who will rely on it will likely die. So Vonceil grabs a horse and runs away to find the witch and break the spell before it is too late.

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Review

Salt Magic is the kind of enchanting tale that only comes along once in awhile. Vonceil lives what she considers a boring existence on a farm in Oklahoma. But, after a witch curses her family’s well, she has to journey into the wilderness to find the witch and reverse the spell. Along the way, she discovers that magic and adventure are not as elusive as she thought, but also that dangerous journeys always come with a price.

Though Salt Magic is set after the end of WWI, the beauty of it comes in how relatable it all feels–even with the magic. Vonceil is a young girl waiting for her life to start, and she is convinced that will happen when her beloved older brother Elber returns home. But going to war has changed Elber in ways Vonceil cannot understand; he values safety and stability and home, while all Vonceil wants is to get away. Plus, she feels alienated and betrayed when Elber marries his girlfriend; Vonceil cannot accept that someone else might be more important to Elber than she is. Vonceil’s growth comes from meeting a witch who also lashed out because she feels lonely and betrayed. In helping the witch, Vonceil also helps herself.

Plenty of magic appears in this tale, and readers will likely find themselves charmed (and alarmed!) just like Vonceil. However, the real depth and beauty comes from the character development. From Vonceil realizing that she and a witch are not so different, after all. From Vonceil realizing that a bit of good and bad resides in everyone. From Vonceil realizing that doing the right thing does not always mean a person will end up happy.

Growing up is bittersweet–and so is Salt Magic. This is the kind of story that stays with a reader. The kind of story that makes them want to return to it again and again.

5 stars

Hooky by Miriam Bonastre Tur

Hooky

Information

Goodreads: Hooky
Series: Hooky #1 (implied by ending)
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2021

Summary

When twins Dani and Dorian miss the bus to school, they head to their aunt’s house, hoping she will teach them magic instead. But it seems like their aunt might be in league with some witches intent on reviving an old war between magic workers and the non-magical. So the twins go on the run once again. With a group of friends, they will have to figure out what the witches are up to–and what role they want to play in the approaching conflict.

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Review

Hooky by Miriam Bonastre Tur begins a little rough–perhaps because it started as a web comic and the conventions for setting up background and characterization may be different. However, soon the story hits its stride, bringing together a lovable (and comedic) cast of characters for an exciting magical adventure. Though I initially thought of DNFing the story, by the end I was hoping for the sequel.

The start of Hooky admittedly had me baffled due to a lack of exposition. It begins in media res, with twins Dani and Dorian missing the bus to magical school, saying something about having to hide their identity as witches (even though Dani’s openly flying through the street), and then wandering off to their (obviously evil) aunt’s house, where they unquestioningly do her bidding–down to taking some hapless young man to a secret prison where (for unknown reasons) Dorian attempts to steal a dragon, leading the twins to be branded traitors (why? who knows!). It’s all kind of frenetic, which is compounded by Dani’s (and later other characters’) peppy personalities–illustrated by a lot of enthusiastic yelling and popping up with big grins. The story does not really seem to know where it is going at this point, only that it needs to keep adding exciting scenes (missed bus! evil aunt! stolen dragon!) to keep readers coming back for the next installment.

At some point, however, the story calms down and the background starts to get fleshed out a little more (even though it’s honestly still confusing and even seemingly self-contradictory). What really helps is that the story gets a main goal around which the other events can kind of cluster. Dani and Dorian have heard about a gathering of witches dedicated to taking back the kingdom from the non-magic folk and they want to check it out–whether to join or resist is still up in the air. Their friends, yes, have their own problems, like finding a lost prince and trying to reverse a spell gone awry, but the sense is that finally the story has some sort of plot that is driving the narrative. And it’s a relief.

By the end of the book, I was finally invested in the characters and interested to know what they might do next. The beginning is rough, yes, but the writing and the structure improves–and it can improve still further! The ending leaves room for a sequel and I hope that we get one!

3 Stars

Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen

Garlic and the Vampire

Information

Goodreads: Garlic and the Vampire
Series: None
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2021

Summary

When a vampire moves into the castle in the woods, Garlic’s friends convince her that only she can confront the threat.

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Review

Garlic and the Vampire is a short graphic novel for the lower middle grade crowd. It follows Garlic (a sentient garlic bulb) when her fellow vegetables volunteer her to confront the vampire who has moved in across the way. Garlic lacks self-esteem and is hesitant and shy, so the thought of having to defeat an evil monster frightens her. However, this is a children’s story so, of course, in the end, mistaken assumptions are corrected and friendship triumphs. There is nothing particularly new or notable about the tale or its message, but the sentient vegetables make the story intriguing if only because readers will have a lot of questions about how sentient vegetables work.

The story here offers nothing fresh; readers know going in that Garlic and the vampire must become friends. And, because the book is so short, not even the “journey” to that friendship proves worth mentioning. Essentially, Garlic just walks up to the vampire’s door, and the vampire introduces himself. He also clarifies that he only snacks on the local wildlife sometimes and that mostly drinks juice. Crisis averted in the span of about two pages. There is zero sense of drama or suspense.

What really interested me about the book is the sentient vegetables. The story opens with the titular Garlic running to the farmer’s market to sell…garlic. Her friend Carrot sells carrots. Tomato sells tomatoes. And so on. Even after the story explains that Garlic and her friends are magical vegetables that have been given life by a witch, it seems more than a little weird. How do the vegetables feel about growing vegetables for other people to eat? Even if those vegetables are (hopefully) not alive? Some readers may find this book cute and winning with its talking vegetables and message of friendship, but the more one thinks about it, the darker the book seems to be.

I read this book in about 15 minutes, so I would not say it is a waste of time to pick it up. I just do not find the book remarkable. There are plenty of stories about unlikely friendships out there, and some of them will likely tug at the heartstrings in the way this one does not. Still, maybe the target audience will enjoy this one more than I.

3 Stars

Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, L. Fury

Run Book One

Information

Goodreads: Run: Book One
Series: Run #1
Age Category: Young Adult
Source: Library
Published: 2021

Official Summary

The sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel series March—the continuation of the life story of John Lewis and the struggles seen across the United States after the Selma voting rights campaign.

To John Lewis, the civil rights movement came to an end with the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But that was after more than five years as one of the preeminent figures of the movement, leading sit–in protests and fighting segregation on interstate busways as an original Freedom Rider. It was after becoming chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and being the youngest speaker at the March on Washington. It was after helping organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer and the ensuing delegate challenge at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. And after coleading the march from Selma to Montgomery on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” All too often, the depiction of history ends with a great victory. But John Lewis knew that victories are just the beginning. In Run: Book One, John Lewis and longtime collaborator Andrew Aydin reteam with Nate Powell—the award–winning illustrator of the March trilogy—and are joined by L. Fury—making an astonishing graphic novel debut—to tell this often overlooked chapter of civil rights history.

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Review

John Lewis’s March trilogy is a powerful read following his involvement in the Civil Rights movement from participating in lunch counter sit-ins to joining the Semla voting rights campaign. That trilogy brings history to life with all its nuances and messiness, while still providing a focal point in Lewis. When I learned that a new trilogy would continue the story, I was beyond thrilled. However, while Run is still educational, it does not quite match the quality of its predecessors.

Run: Book One has a somewhat vague summary from the publisher. Now that I have read the book, I understand why. There seems to be no focal point here, no guiding narrative. The book simply informs readers about events as they unfold. While this may be realistic, the purpose of telling stories is usually to give them meaning. I expected Run to, at the very least, give the events and Lewis’s involvement in them a sense of unifying purpose. The storytellers, however, seem to have no intent to shape the narrative to help readers understand it.

Rather, Run: Book One seems dedicated to cramming in as much information as possible in order to highlight more individuals who worked in the Civil Rights movement. This, of course, is laudable. However, it is not necessarily great storytelling. Dropping lists of names, roles, and dates active is perhaps educational, but not exactly gripping. The March trilogy works because it centers around one man’s life and how he responds to the events happening around him. Run struggles because it tries to expand the scope of the book to well, everyone.

The amount of information contained actually proves a bit overwhelming–a notable feature in a story presented in graphic novel form specifically in an effort to reach more readers. Readers who might not normally read nonfiction or dive into a text-heavy book. But Run: Book One is text heavy! Having large info dumps and then putting a sketch of a bunch of portraits next to it does little to make that text easier to read and makes this book feel more like an illustrated nonfiction than a graphic novel. The understanding of how comics work and what they can do is lacking here.

Run: Book One only really hits its stride in the final pages, when the focus returns to John Lewis and his response to events around him. This is the moment when he is voted out of SNCC and the stakes for him become real. With the focus on one person, readers can more readily access what this moment might mean, not only for Lewis, but also for the movement. Nonviolence is on the way out and more aggressive voices are taking charge. But what will Lewis do? Well, readers have to wait for book two to find out!

I really wanted to love Run because of how much I love March. However, while I think the book and the events it covers are important, I do not think the narrative works very well and I think the creators missed the purpose of telling this story as a comic book. Hopefully, the second installment can improve on this, though. I’ll still be reading it to find out.

3 Stars

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow by Emma Steinkellner

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow

Information

Goodreads: The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow
Series: Okay Witch #2
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2021

Summary

Now a witch, Moth Hush has no hope that things at school will get any better. Her mom will still let her learn only small spells, and she is not allowed to use magic to make the school bullies stop. Then Moth finds a powerful charm that promises to make her cool and popular. There may be a cost involved, but it is nothing Moth can’t handle, right?

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Review

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow is a powerful, and empathetic, follow-up to The Okay Witch. Now practicing as a witch with the blessing of her mother, Moth hopes that she can use her powers to make her life at school better. But her friend Charlie and the grown-ups around her just keep telling her to ignore the bullies and to accept herself as she is. For Moth, that is not good enough. So she steals a charm that promises to make her more popular. The result, as readers might expect, instead threatens to erase Moth completely. The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow is a beautiful story about learning to love one’s self, with the support of friends and family along the way.

Stories about accepting one’s self and learning to appreciate one’s friends are common for middle grade, but The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow gives a little twist by making the protagonist a witch. While many characters might wish that they could drastically change themselves, or that they could instantly become popular, Moth actually can. The ultimate lesson is still, of course, that magic cannot solve all of life’s problems. But it is fun to see how magic might try–the scene in the cafeteria where magically popular Moth begins a High School Musical-esque number and gets everyone to join in was amazingly hilarious. A reader starts to wonder if magic might not be a great solution. How else would one get to actually live in a musical for a moment?

The book is filled with moments of humor, from when Moth accidentally “twins” outfits with the dorkiest teacher at school to the scenes where her talking cat gets absorbed in a sitcom about a teenage witch. Though Moth is not happy with her life, readers can see that she is, in fact, surrounded by wonderful people. Even the dorky teacher turns out to be empathetic, sensitive, and, well, pretty cool. (Though it’s probably hard for a preteen to admit that.) Readers will delight in getting to enter into Moth’s world and experience all the loving support she has, if only she would recognize it.

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow is a wonderful read, more effectively executed even than book one. Hopefully, there are yet more of Moth’s adventures to come!

4 stars

Moonstruck, Vol. 1: Magic to Brew

Information

Goodreads: Moonstruck
Series: Moonstruck #1
Source: Library
Published: 2018

Official Summary

Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late.

Collects issues 1 through 5.

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Review

The premise of Moonstruck intrigued me, as did the cute art style. Julie is a werewolf barista, who is ashamed of her transformations. But she meets a new girlfriend, another werewolf, who is proud of who she is. Together, the two discover a magician–but when he casts a spell on their friend, they have to go on a mission to track him down to reverse the curse. There should be plenty of mystery, action, and drama, right? Well, not so much. Moonstruck ends up being a rather lackluster graphic novel with only the sketchiest of plots.

The biggest strength of the book is arguably the characters, which, unfortunately, is not saying a lot. Readers get a broad understandings of who the characters are, but never get to delve into their hopes, fears, or motivations. For example, it is clear that Julie is embarrassed about being a werewolf because she will run away when she transforms. But she and her friends never talk about it. Is there a stigma against werewolves where Julie lives? Does she just think looking all hairy is awkward? Readers never know.

The other characters also lack real depth, and seem to be present mainly to forward the plot. Chet, for example, is the catalyst for the events of the story, while Julie’s new girlfriend undergoes an unexpected personality change–turning quite angry–towards the end of the book, apparently just to add a bit of drama. I wanted to love these characters, but the story does not give readers much to work with.

The plot is also sorely lacking, most notably during the climax of the story. How exactly Julie and her friends manage to defeat the magician is very unclear. There is no discernible plan for his capture and his defeat comes unexpectedly and suddenly. It is a real letdown to read an entire book only to have it fall apart so decisively at the ending. This, more than anything, caused me to be disappointed with the story, and to cancel my library holds on the next two volumes.

The idea of magical creatures living in an ordinary world, serving coffee, forming bands, and falling in love is cute. Unfortunately, the execution of this story just isn’t there. I’ll be looking for another supernatural tale to enchant me this season.

2 star review

Witches of Brooklyn: What the Hex?! by Sophie Escabasse

Witches of Brooklyn What the Hex

Information

Goodreads: Witches of Brooklyn: What the Hex?!
Series: Witches of Brooklyn #2
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2021

Summary

Sophie loves exploring her new powers as a witch and, even better, she’s starting to meet the other witches in town. They’re really cool women who do their best to help others! But there’s a new girl at school, and suddenly everyone seems way more interested in her than they are interested in hanging out with Sophie. Can this witch figure out how to save her friendships?

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Review

The sequel to Witches of Brooklyn is an engaging, if not particularly memorable read. Like many middle-grade graphic novels, it focuses on the drama of changing friend groups, though with the added twist of making the protagonist a witch. Sophie, however, does not experience any real struggles with her magic in this installment, thereby lessening much of the drama and keeping the focus on her jealousy towards her friend’s infatuation with the new girl at school. What the Hex?! is a pleasant read, but not the type of story that invites rereading.

What the Hex?! attempts to intertwine two parallel stories, with only partial success. One thread follows Sophie’s anger at her friend for paying more attention to the new girl than to her. Another follows Sophie as she meets more neighborhood witches, and learns about a city corner that seems to be cursed–at least, everyone who goes by seems to meet with bad luck. Predictably, Sophie’s ability to move past her jealousy and reach out is what ultimately enables her to solve the conflict at the corner, as well.

Unfortunately, however, the magic system is somewhat undeveloped, as is the process whereby Sophie solves the problem of the curse. As a result, the ending scene feels a bit rushed or perhaps unearned. Sophie has a random idea about the corner, based on little evidence, that just happens to be right. And then all is solved by the power of friendship! I support messages of friendship, but sometimes just throwing out that love can solve everything seems a bit too facile to be believable. There needs to be work involved, as well.

In the end, I did enjoy What the Hex?!, but the story and the art do not stand out from all the similar titles. Witchy middle-grade books are trending, as are middle school friendship dramas. As are witchy friendship dramas, which is apparently now its own subgenre. What the Hex?! simply is not as strong as the titles it is competing with. And it is not really the kind of book that I see lasting.

3 Stars