Witches of Brooklyn: S’More Magic | Review
Witches of Brooklyn: S’More Magic
By Sophie Escabasse
Random House Graphic, $20.99 (hardcover), $12.99 (paperback)
This camp-themed volume is the latest entry in the ongoing Witches of Brooklyn graphic novel series.
Effie is off to the woods for a summer camp for witches. There, she’ll find out whether she has a green thumb, meaning affinity with plant magic and a special connection with nature.
The new setting allows for new characters. Her aunts (whom we got to know in the first book) and friends (second book) make small appearances, but the new cast includes Henry, a boy who spent a year as a panda because of a love gone wrong; Moji, a camp counselor; and Sonia, a mean girl.
Given the ever-sprawling cast of characters and increasing powers for Effie, I found this volume sometimes overwhelming. The events are a bit generic — Effie has to overcome a fear, Effie is goaded into doing something she was warned against and has to fix things, Effie is annoyed by another girl. I’ve seen all these before in other camp novels.
The magic gives everything a bit of a fresh take, but the new characters are underdeveloped. Plus, Effie getting a new ability just in time to clean up her mess is too convenient. Effie is always the special one, to the extent that I found myself sympathizing with some of the characters annoyed by the extent of her specialness. Sonia, in particular, isn’t given any background or characterization to explain why she’s so rude from the start.
Some of the messages also made me wonder. Henry losing himself as a panda because he was dumped, only to be healed by another, sudden crush — that’s questionable. I’d rather have seen him find himself for himself, not for someone else. We’re also told that it doesn’t matter whether or not someone has a green thumb to enjoy nature, but then the story revolves around someone who does and forgets about the others.
The cartooning is great, though. The vistas make the reader want to experience and value nature the way these women do. There’s a magical checkers competition that gets a little confusing to follow, but maybe that’s because it feels shoehorned in, as though we needed to be reminded about the kids’ powers.
Overall, I wish there was a bit less happening in this book. With other volumes coming, it would have been nice to have seen fewer changes and events so the material had more space to breathe. A little more time to get to know the characters would have been appreciated. Still, kids may find this tale of camp, but with powers, a fun escape.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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