Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries: A Magical YA Graphic Novel

This is a Spoiler Free book review for the YA Graphic Novel Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ◊

Goodreads Synopsis

“In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Those that are strong enough are conscripted by the Witch Guard, who enforce the law in peacetime and protect the land during war. However, those with hair judged too long are pronounced enemies of the kingdom, and annihilated. This is called a witch burning.

Witchy is a comic about the young witch Nyneve, who is haunted by the death of her father and the threat the Witch Guard poses to her own life. When conscription rolls around, Nyneve has a choice to make; join the institution complicit in her father’s death, or stand up for her ideals?.”  –Goodreads

Favorite Aspects:

Characters (8)

There is a fairly diverse cast of characters in this novel; there is even a trans character. The characters are flawed and their motivations clear throughout the story. The author illustrates the character’s reasons for their actions clearly, while still leaving some mystery to the world and backstories of certain characters. Nyneve’s struggles as a young woman dealing with an oppressive culture and the loss of a parent is relatable for a lot of young people. Additionally, the reader feels the love that Nyneve’s mother has for her and how much she wants to protect her from the world. It is important to note that Nyneve’s mother and the other adults around her do not doubt her ability to be responsible and refrain from talking down to her like many adult characters in YA tend to do.

One downfall in the character’s would be the villains. There is not much explanation behind the villains’ actions/motivations. This may become more clear in future installments in the series, but for now the reader is left wondering “why”.

Atmosphere (8)

The world that Nyneve is thrown into all on her own is vivid and rooted in a dark history that keeps the reader wanting more. It is easy to feel immersed in this world with Nyneve, because the art style and lore is so well done. There are some heavier topics touched on in this story, but the tone remains hopeful and whimsical throughout, which will satisfy (or not) the reader’s individual preferences for tone. Lastly, the magic system in this world is dependent on the length of the user’s hair, which is a unique and intriguing element to this story. This world isn’t as deep or fleshed out as a traditional fantasy novel, but it is good for a graphic novel.

Writing (8)

This book is well written and easy to read in one sitting. The action is quick in this story, but it is refined enough to provide information about the world and characters at the same time. The magic system is well developed, along with the culture, politics, and character relationships. This book’s only hindrance is the length, which will be discussed in “Plot”.

Intrigue (8)

The history and politics of this world are highly intriguing with plenty for the series to explore in future installments. The characters’ backstories and relationships are rich with mystery to uncover. The more characters the reader meets, the more they want to know and keep reading. We need more, Ries!

This book is quite difficult to put down, and I recommend reading it all in one go.

Logic (9)

This story and its characters make sense, and their actions are reasonable for a YA novel. There really isn’t any point where the reader is drawn out of the story to question the logic of the world, because the author does a good job of setting up a stable foundation for the story to progress upon. The politics and world are not too complicated for the average reader to understand (it’s not like The Starless Sea).

Enjoyment (8)

This book is a fun and lighthearted read with similar tones to Katie O’Neill’s graphic novels. Not only is this a fast read with lots of action, but it’s also magical and full of nature. There is also a training school for rebel children and strong female characters. The magic is interesting and the side characters are a joy. This is quite an enjoyable read for those who enjoy YA Fantasy and Graphic Novels with important commentary and lessons woven into the general story.

Least Favorite Aspects:

Plot (5)

The plot in this book is fast and short. This book is not a complete plot arc, because the plot is just getting started when the book ends abruptly. If there are future installments on the way, this isn’t an issue, On the other hand, if this is a standalone, I would say the lack of resolution and overall plot makes this an incomplete story. Under the assumption this is part of a series of graphic novels, this installment is the introduction to this world and the beginning of Nyneve’s journey.

I personally wished there was more to this installment or I had read the first few volumes all at once, because I didn’t really feel like I got an ending at all.

This is a nice short read with not a lot that happens plot wise, which will appeal to some and not others. This aspect will be a matter of preference and expectations based on the individual reader.

Content Warnings

  • Transphobia, misgendering, deceased parent, oppressive government, execution, self-harm (possibly), and bullying.

Thank you for reading. Please, don’t forget to check out my review for Upside Down by N. R. Walker

-Knight of Cups ❤

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