This is a Spoiler Free book review for the graphic novel Snapdragon by Kat Leyh.
“Kat Leyh’s Snapdragon is a magical realist graphic novel about a young girl who befriends her town’s witch and discovers the strange magic within herself.
Snap’s town had a witch. At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a Crocs-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too.
Snap needs a favor from this old woman, though, so she begins helping Jacks with her strange work. Snap gets to know her and realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic–and an unlikely connection to Snap’s family’s past.” –Goodreads
Dead animals, animal bones, taxidermy, internalized homophobia, gender identity, familial disapproval, prejudice of witches, single-parent, failed love, bullying, emotional abuse, persistent exes, and more.
Ratings are my own opinions and quoted text is my subjective opinion.
The characters in this standalone graphic novel are easy to like, because they are quirky and unique to themselves. Leyh wrote the dialogue and scenes to be an efficient and effective way for the reader to understand each character and their individual flaws and journeys. The main character, Snap, is spunky, quirky, and all around confident in who she is. She knows she doesn’t fit society’s gender expectations for a girl, but she knows she is one. She knows she is different from the “typical girl”, but she doesn’t seem to fight that difference. She instead embraces her differences and does her own thing.
I personally love that Snap is a breath of fresh air. She is confident, quirky, and highly compassionate. She took every situation and made it work for her, while not letting the less than fun aspects of life hold her down. She struggles, but she doesn’t ever play the victim, and I love that about her.
I could go on about each character, but that would make this review longer than the actual book! Just know that there is a single/hardworking mother, a transgender friend, a masculine witch, and a f/f romance between cute old people. Also of note, Snap’s mother is highly supportive of her daughter, no matter her identity, and it is beautiful to see supportive parents when that’s unfortunately not in the majority of lgbtqia+ stories. Everyone (except for the young bullies) in this story is supportive and wholesome.
I loved every character in this story, even though it is not very long. Each character has a flaw/struggle, a moment of reflection, and an important role in Snap’s life. I couldn’t pick a favorite character in this book, because I love each one for a different reason. I think most people will be able to see a part of themself in at least one of the many characters.
Most of this book takes place in the woods surrounding Jacks’ house and at Snap’s house. There are spooky woods, graveyards, sky adventures, living room movie nights, and cozy kitchens throughout this book. Each setting is portrayed beautifully by the art style. The overall atmosphere of this book is cozy with a bit of spooky and magical vibes, which all work together quite well.
I really have no complaints about the atmosphere of this story. It is cozy, dark, and magical with a hint of death, and I loved it all. I mainly adored that despite the darker themes, the author was able to keep a lighthearted tone throughout the story.
Despite being limited by the graphic novel format, this book is full of character development and successfully portrays a complete storyline without losing too much to the medium. Graphic novels can often leave the reader wanting more due to limitations of telling a story with images and dialogue, but this book does not disappoint. The plot is successfully paced and the characters have almost or just as much depth as a traditional novel. Leyh’s writing is beautifully done, and the illustrations compliment the story brilliantly.
The only reason I didn’t give this graphic novel a full 10/10, is because despite being very well done, I can see there is still a bit of room for improvement. It is great but not perfect.
This character driven story has less of a plot and more of a slice of life (or contemporary) feel to it. The story follows Snap as she searches for her dog, confronts a witch, makes a friend, confronts her mother’s ex boyfriend, and reunites an old love all while learning magic for herself.
Despite the lack of focus on a central plot, this story feels complete and keeps the reader intrigued sheerly with the characters and their development. If you prefer plot driven stories, this may not be the book for you.
I never once felt bored or like nothing was happening. Although, upon looking back at the plot, I realized there isn’t a ton that happens in this book, but I don’t feel like it necessarily needed it.
As mentioned above, this standalone story keeps the reader engaged using the characters and their interesting development. The reader is rooting for Snap to make friends, find her magic, and feel part of something. It is easy to read this short graphic novel in one sitting, because everything happens quickly with ties to the characters’ development and relationships. Not to mention Leyh’s brilliant use of flashbacks that keep the reader wanting to know more of the truth and how things come full circle in the end. And everything does tie up with a pretty little bow before the story closes.
This story definitely has some whimsical/magical moments and is for a younger audience, but it can be easily enjoyed by all ages. Nothing too outrageous or convenient happens. There is one “wow, small world” moment where characters that just met have a common connection that comes full circle in the end, but things like that happen in real life no matter how serendipitous it can seem.
I have personally had so many moments like the one in this book where I can’t help but think about how small the world can be sometimes. I really enjoyed that serendipitous feeling the book portrayed.
If you like a whimsical YA coming-of-age story with magic, darker themes, lgbtqia+ representation, family themes, and a rekindled past love, then this quick read is worth your time. This standalone graphic novel is a nice balance of light to heavy topics with a focus on the upside in all things that life has to throw at us, good and bad.
I think this is such an important book for young people who are finding their own footing and maybe struggling with any of the themes mentioned above. Not to mention this story shows black joy, which is such an important perspective to put out into the world and show people of all ages and backgrounds. I am not an own voices reviewer for this book, so I recommend looking for some if you are interested! Also, if you are an own voices reviewer for this graphic novel, please share your thoughts in the comments. Your voice is the one that matters most, and I’d love to add your thoughts to this review!