Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Review - Little Witches: Magic in Concord

Little Witches: Magic in Concord
by Leigh Dragoon
Date: 2019
Publisher: Oni Press
Reading level: MG
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 160
Format: e-book
Source: library

A charming and magical graphic novel adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's LITTLE WOMEN!

Jo, Beth, Amy, and Meg March are four sisters living in Concord with their parents—Father, who's tending to soldiers fighting in the Civil War, and Marmee, who teaches the girls simple but effective witchcraft. The Marches have to keep their craft quiet, as there are many in Concord who see magic in a bad light—especially after things have begun disappearing.

When Mr. Laurence, a witchfinder, moves in next door to investigate the missing objects, the girls fear for their livelihood. But he turns out to be a kind old man, and his grandson, Laurie, quickly befriends the Marches. As the cold winter blusters on, the girls continue their education, even as missing objects soon turn into missing people.

Things take a turn for the worse when Jo and Laurie try investigating on their own, and a dangerous storm takes hold of Concord. There's powerful magic at play here—stronger than anything the Marches, or even Laurie, has ever seen before. Can they hope to defeat it? Or has the magic already become too strong for them to fight against?

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The premise of this graphic novel is decent, but the execution is really uneven. (And can I just say how much I hate the cover? It wasn't until I zoomed way in that I realized Beth didn't actually have a beard.)

The March sisters are portrayed much the way they are in Alcott's original novel, with their defining characteristics. Jo's not really a writer here, though, so that's a little disappointing. Laurie is black, and how his grandfather--an escaped slave--made their fortune is a little far-fetched. (This part felt a little bit like the diversity was being forced. A more plausible explanation for the Laurence family fortune might have helped. I just have a hard time believing an escaped slave made that much money by writing his autobiography and giving a few lectures, especially when racism was still alive and well at the time the story took place.) Anyway, there are the familiar plot points of Marmee being called away, Amy's incident with the limes, and Beth's illness... but they're all touched by magic.

Concord is plagued by mysterious disappearances of people, animals, and objects. Jo gets it into her head to try to investigate these weird happenings, and the girls discover that magic is being used. So, of course, they try to stop it themselves and end up in a world of trouble.

I found the story a little difficult to follow in spots, especially in the beginning. Marmee, Beth, and Jo look a lot alike, and I often had to stop and try to figure out who was speaking. (It gets better after Marmee's called away and Jo cuts her hair.) But even then, the characters aren't always drawn consistently. Amy, for the most part, has a curl on her forehead... but it disappears on a few occasions for no real reason.

The ending is by far the biggest disappointment, however. It's almost as if the author ran out of steam and just wanted to finish. The whole storyline is wrapped up, with barely any words at all. For a graphic novel that's fairly heavy on the dialogue for most of the story, it comes across as jarring and rushed when the last ten pages have only a handful of words at all.

This is an interesting take on Little Women, and I'm not sorry I read it. It didn't quite live up to my expectations, though.

Thank you to NetGalley and Oni Press for providing a digital ARC.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing & Editing: 3/5
Illustration: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 ladybugs

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