Readers' Favorite

May 9, 2021

2 Illustrated Stories to Read

by MK French

Do you enjoy Japanese manga or do you prefer the more American-style graphic novel? Today, I have one of each for you.

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The Witch and the Beast by Kousuke Satake

The Witch and The Beast
October 2020; Kodansha Comics; 978-1646510214
ebook, print (192 pages); manga
Guideau is a feral girl with fangs and savage eyes, while Ashaf has delicate features and a coffin strapped to his back. They arrive in a town where a witch convinced the people she's their hero. Ashaf and Guideau know she isn't a hero and will get their vengeance.

Witches are vicious in this world and often leave gory messes in their wake. Guideau and Ashaf work for the Order of Magical Resonance, an organization that deals with all kinds of magic. Sometimes that will pit them against witches, as Ashaf is a mage. Guideau is harsh and rough, determined to also break the curse she's under by killing the witch that cast it. This volume has three cases that the duo investigates, with clean art lines that highlight the creepy, gory, and body horror that the witches create in their wake.

Some of the battles are a little difficult for me to track, but overall I really enjoyed the art and the look of magic and magic users. Guideau is almost obnoxious in how much she wants to leap to violence immediately. We're given the barest of backstories to explain this, and none at all for Ashaf. This is a fascinating start to the series, and I suspect that there will be a lot more revealed about them, the role of witches in this world, and the use of magic. For many other manga series, the mysterious starts lead to a lot of fun secrets unraveling as the series progresses.

The Weirn Books Vol. 1: Be Wary of the Silent Woods by Svetlana Chmakova

Be Wary of the Silent Woods
July 2020; JY; 978-1975311216
ebook, print (240 pages); graphic novel
Allis is a weirn, a witch with a demon guardian. She attends school to learn about magic and also has to juggle her family, life as a weirn, and friendships. While out with her friends, they saw a light on in an old school that children disappeared from. Her cousin disappears, so now they all have to find her.

Chemkova wrote and illustrated other wonderful middle-grade books in the Berrybrook Middle School series. (Awkward, Brave, Crush and Diary) In this first volume of a new middle-grade comic series, the Night Realm is a place populated by shifters, vampires, and weirns. Other creatures that appear human live there as well as actual humans. Even so, the children still have to go to school! There are all the usual middle school drama pieces here, with friends and frenemies and nemeses, studying for tests and trying to do specialized training classes. Even if they don't have an astral of their own, kids will still appreciate the struggles of school and friendships. They know to avoid the creepy house in the woods and generally follow the rule until kids disappear again.

I love the art style, and the little touches that show how astrals protect their bonded witches. When it rains, they become umbrellas or will become spiky when a strange figure is stalking the witch. The story is revealed slowly, and the kids are very resourceful and brave in the face of danger. This is a great start to the series, with a final page that tells us that everything is not as calm or safe as the children all think it is.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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