“Could there really be witches in Brooklyn? Effie’s aunts are weird. Like, really WEIRD. Really, really, really WEIRD. The secretly-magic kind of weird and that makes Effie wonder . . . does this mean she can do magic, too? Life in Brooklyn takes a strange twist for Effie as she learns more about her family and herself. With new friends who will do whatever they can to be there for her, a cursed pop-star, and her magically-inclined aunts–Effie’s life is about to get interesting.”
-Synopsis from StoryGraph
I always look forward to reading seasonal graphic novels this time of year, and this month I’ll be reviewing witchy ones in particular. I’ll be posting them throughout the month of October., and Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse is up first!
*light spoilers ahead*
This story stars with Effie being dropped off at her aunt’s home in the middle of the night, by men in black suits. At first it seems suspicious but then we learn that because Effie’s mom recently died, she will now be in the care of her aunts who are equally as surprised by this as Effie is. She now has to start at a new school and get used to living in her aunt’s strange home. She ends up helping them with their work, and along the way discovers that not only do they have magical powers but so does she.
That is the story in a nutshell. I had many thoughts while reading this. One of the first things that struck me was the font style, which was not the typical all-capital letters used in most graphic novels. While I understand that each artist has their own style, I couldn’t help but wonder if this would prove challenging for some readers. In particular, I know that people with dyslexia struggle with certain fonts, and the style in Witches of Brooklyn is similar to the Disney font with a mix of capital and lowercase letters. Even I was distracted by it, so I can only imagine how it would potentially affect someone else.
The other thing distracting me was that I couldn’t decide if this book, categorized as a children’s graphic novel, was really age appropriate. The story seemed awfully complex for young readers, but I think the very beginning in which Effie is being dropped off at her aunt’s in the middle of the night might be most confusing. Since that is not a realistic depiction of how an orphan would be treated, I think it could be harmful to portray that scenario in a way that is so frightening.
Despite all of that, I was really just disappointed that this story wasn’t as witchy as I thought it would be! Witches and magic are not even acknowledged until nearly eighty pages into the story, which is a really long time to put off what, based on the title, I thought would be the focus of the story.
Ultimately it read as a story about a girl starting a new life with her aunts who happened to be witches. Magic and witchcraft was introduced in such a simple way which I thought was a little disappointing. It was vague and not memorable in any way.
I hope that young readers are able to enjoy this story. I know there is already a sequel out, which has had good reviews, so that is always a good sign. I came away from this with mixed feelings because the title and the story didn’t match up, but other readers may feel differently.