Moonstruck: Vol. 1: Magic To Brew

illus. by Shae Beagle, Clayton Cowles, Laurenn McCubbin, & Caitlin Quirk. 120p. Image. Mar. 2018. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781534304772.
Gr 8 Up-In the small town of Blitheton, Latinx werewolf Julie leads a charmingly simple life. She works as a barista alongside Chet, her centaur best friend, and has just started dating Selena, the girl of her dreams. But Julie is desperate to be fully human. When she and Selena go on a date to a dubious magic show (with Chet chaperoning), things take a turn for the worse after Chet is literally transformed by the evening's events. Tension mounts for the new couple as all three work alongside their oracle friend Cass to find and stop the devious magician Dorian from wreaking havoc on the magical community. Ellis crafts relatable main characters and memorable secondary ones. Beagle's artwork is dynamic, often eschewing traditional panels in favor of alternating sharp diagonals and rounded borderless panels, with occasional spreads. Although the bubblegum- and sherbet-infused pastel palette suggest pure lightheartedness, the story is complex, with themes of self-acceptance: Julie feels shame at being a werewolf, while Chet uses "they/them" pronouns and is proud of their identity as a centaur. Bobbsey Twins parody inserts add layers to Julie's narrative while injecting humor via witty asides. The varied body types and snippets of Central/South American Spanish are welcomed inclusions.
VERDICT This delectably soft fantasy comes highly recommended; for readers looking for the sugary sweetness of Katie O'Neill's The Tea Dragon Society with a touch of romantic conflict thrown in.-Alea Perez, Westmont Public Library, IL

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