A dynamic series installment sparkling with visual invention.

A group of teenagers unravel intertwined mysteries on a magical island.

Sorceline begins the second installment of her titular series in an incapacitated dream state, while eccentric Professor Balzar recounts the strange particulars of her parentage to his attentive adolescent apprentices. There are vampires involved and dark and stormy nights. But that story is superseded by current crises as an unseen villain plots to gain complete control of the Isle of Vorn and its many mystical creatures. The book heads down many narrative paths, mixing fantasy, mystery, and horror with family drama and teenage angst. To pack so much action into a brief graphic novel, however, entails more telling than showing, and characters frequently impart backstory and worldbuilding details in unintegrated expository text boxes. Though the tale feels overstuffed at times, the visual world of Vorn is stuffed with otherworldly delights. Gnomes, dragons, gargoyles, and chimera inhabit fantastical landscapes and imposing buildings; cryptid creatures buzz through the air and congregate beneath floorboards. A blend of jewel tones and autumnal hues evokes a comfortable mood that tempts readers to linger in the island’s secret spots even if there might be danger lurking around the corner. With thoughtfulness and teamwork, Sorceline and her peers face their foe in a manner that sets them up quite transparently for future quests. Sorceline has dark hair and pale skin in subtly vampiric style, while Professor Balzar presents White and the apprentices are diverse.

A dynamic series installment sparkling with visual invention. (profiles of featured mythical creatures) (Graphic fantasy. 9-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2023

ISBN: 9781524882310

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023



There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015


Thoroughly, deliciously creepy.

A gathering of genuinely chilling tales, related by children in a classroom and presented in graphic format.

Invited by their teacher Ms. Nomed (mark the name) to tell “the eeriest story you have,” five young volunteers, variously light or dark of skin, stand up in turn to petrify their classmates. Alvin, for instance, shares a historical tale of a village that vanishes after previously friendly green bipedal “fish people” discover a taste for human flesh. Emily tells of a spaceship’s crew that looks human…right up until the tentacles shoot out of their eyes and mouths. Those and other tales that feature ghosts and conversations with a decapitated stranger are related in even tones that work effectively with the sepia and other subdued color schemes in Annable’s cartoon panels to provide properly slow builds to horrifying climaxes. The most lurid twist comes at the end of the last and longest entry, “The Door to Demons,” which turns out to be not made up at all but a frame story that touches off a mad scramble to escape a teacher who has suddenly transformed into a toothy, terrifying monster with a spectacularly weird upside-down head. It will take hardy readers indeed to sit comfortably in their own classrooms by day—or for that matter, hope for peaceful dreams at night—after these screamers.

Thoroughly, deliciously creepy. (Graphic horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 18, 2023

ISBN: 9781250195036

Page Count: 368

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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