GRAPHIC NOVELS

Little Witches: Magic in Concord

Oni. Sept. 2019. 160p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781620105535; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781620106488.
COPY ISBN
Gr 3-6–Amy, Beth, Jo, and Meg March live with their mother in Concord, MA, while their father is away healing the wounded in the Civil War. The Marches are witches, and when Mr. Laurence, a witchfinder, moves in next door, they hide the evidence of their powers. Mysterious disappearances begin happening in town, and Mr. Laurence befriends the Marches as he searches for the source of the troubles. With eye-catching illustrations and a muted palette appropriate for the historical setting, this graphic novel retelling turns Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women into a mystery involving magic. Those familiar with Alcott’s tale will find this comforting, but many readers will be confused by the infusion of magic and mystery. For example, it isn’t clear why Aunt Josephine wishes to train Amy and not Jo in the art of magic, apart from an explanation that Jo is “too old.” There is little background about the existence of witches or differentiation between “good” and “bad” ones, so readers will not understand why Mr. Laurence becomes the Marches’ friends even after he learns their secret but still wants to ferret out other witches. Readers who enjoy mysteries will be left unsatisfied by the thin plotting of the mystery arc, but this story may find an audience among those who appreciate a moderately paced tale with an action-packed climax.
VERDICT Fans of Little Women may prefer Rey Terciero’s modern graphic adaptation Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Direct readers who enjoy magic and mystery to Molly Knox Ostertag’s The Witch Boy. An additional purchase for libraries with robust graphic novel collections

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