The Witch Boy: “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.” (via Goodreads)
M.F.K.: Book One: “A fantastic adventure following the story of Abbie, a deaf girl with a mysterious power, who is traveling across a vast desert to scatter her mother’s ashes.
In a world of sleeping gods, a broken government, and a fragile peace held in the hands of the corrupt, one youth must find the strength to stand up against evil and save humanity.
This story is not about that youth.
It’s about Abbie, who just wants to get to the mountain range called the Potter’s Spine and scatter her mother’s ashes. But the way is filled with sandstorms, wild beasts, and rogues that wield inhuman powers and prey on poor desert dwellers. When one of these rogues threatens the town where Abbie takes refuge, she must choose between running, or unleashing her own hidden power to meet danger head-on.
Journeys are hard on the social recluses of the world.” (via Goodreads)
The Witch Boy
It’s not hard to feel an instant bond with Aster, and I love that Ostertag told this particular story with a boy Aster’s age. The Witch Boy functions as an allegory for coming out, and I’d argue more specifically about coming out as trans or gender nonconforming. Aster’s old enough to have already had years of gender stereotypes hurled at him and rigid gender roles forced on him, yet also old enough to know he doesn’t want to—and can’t—conform. To be the truest version of himself, he must go against everything his family believes is “right.” His only other choice is to sacrifice who he is by conforming to harmful rules. The allegory isn’t explicit, and some kids might not pick up on it, however all readers will recognize what it’s like to feel othered for one reason or another. But for those that do find the heart of the allegory–i.e.: the kids that need it the most–it will mean the world to them. And as far as I’m concerned, that makes The Witch Boy pretty much perfect…
M.F.K.: Book One
The plot in Book One is light and unhurried, and, again, very much in the vein of a story that started as a webcomic with endless bounds and no end in sight. Readers not used to that format may find the plot too spacious, but it works for me. I highly recommend reading chapter four online if you’re still on the fence after the first volume. Magruder definitely knows where she’s going with this story, and there’s a lot more worldbuilding and character development in the fourth chapter. But mostly I just loved spending time with Abbie and Jaime. It’s more about the characters interacting with each other than anything else. The long-awaited fifth chapter can’t come soon enough, as far as I’m concerned…
To read the rest of my review, head over to Tor.com.
Do the world a favor and buy these comics from your local indie comic book store or borrow it from your public library.