Title: The Witch Boy
Author/artist: Molly Knox Ostertag
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Graphix (Scholastic imprint)
In thirteen-year-old Aster's family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn't shifted... and he's still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help -- as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family... and be truly himself.
The Witch Boy is a story of searching and secrets, of magic, of the battle inside Aster of following through with what he feels is right and continuing his family's traditions.
Surrounded by family, his parents and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins, Aster is lonely. He's quick and perceptive, caring and eager to learn, but lonely. He doesn't really fit in with his extended family of witches and shapeshifters. He's more interested in learning witchery than shapeshifting, but only girls are taught witchery. And so Aster is stuck between what he wants to be and what his family tells him he's supposed to be. But when something dangerous circles the family, when it takes and twists some of his cousins and threatens his family, Aster will have to gather up all of his courage in order to save them.
I rather enjoyed the artwork, it was the little details that I loved. The way everyone in Aster's family looked a little similar, how often red hair popped up in his family. The expressions on Aster's face, confusion and sorrow and shame. The little bits of magic, the symbols and the tools, the herbs hanging in the kitchen. The look of the monster hunting Aster's family, its unnatural shape.
I was looking forward to reading this and I'm happy that it didn't disappoint. It's about magic and family, about figuring out who you are inside. About lessons and learning. About being honest and finding the strength to tell your family the truth about yourself, that you're one thing instead of another. For Aster, that's telling his family that he's a witch instead of a shapeshifter, which was hard for him because at every turn he's reminded that only the girls of the family are taught to be witches. Knowing there will be another book, I'm curious to see where it will go, if Aster will be allowed to learn witchery and what he'll discover next.
(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)