The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand

Knopf. Jul. 2020. 352p. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9780525646778.
Gr 8 Up–In the sleepy New England town of Port Howl, rumors and secrets thrive. Luckily for twins Al and Pete, that means opportunities to investigate and earn some reward money. When lightning strikes a nearby lighthouse, the teen sleuths discover an altar and see someone practicing witchcraft—who then chases them. Al and Pete realize they’ve uncovered a mystery that threatens to uncover some of Port Howl’s darkest secrets. Along with their stepsister Charlie, their professor father David, and David’s assistant Rowan, the boys try to crack this spooky case. Reminiscent of the illustrations in the “Lumberjanes” series, the art is charming with sketchy lines and bold watercolors. Despite minimalist designs, characters are expressive. The sequences featuring witches are especially striking, with dramatic angles, varying panel sizes, and some hauntingly pale colors. Though the art might suggest a middle grade audience, scenes of teens drinking and smoking, along with the occasional swear word, make this book more appropriate for a YA audience. Set against the backdrop of the late 1960s burgeoning gay rights movement, the tale also explores the complications of grappling with an LGBTQ+ identity in more close-minded times.
VERDICT A secondary purchase for mature fans of classic children’s mysteries.

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