Doughnuts and Doom

Top Shelf. Sept. 2022. 136p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781603095136.
Gr 8 Up–City witch Margot Grapes is struggling with passing her spell exam at the witch hub. Her magic never cooperates, and examiner Katie Banks seems invested in her failure. Dejected, Margot takes herself and Stanley, her good-natured snake familiar, to grab her favorite chocolate doughnuts. Elena the café cashier clashes immediately with Margot, who reacts poorly upon hearing the doughnuts have sold out. Heated words and an accidental curse are exchanged, leading to Elena getting electrocuted at her band’s show later that night. The girls reconcile, sparking a series of attempts to reverse the curse while nurturing a blossoming romantic connection and evading Katie’s evil plans to bar Margot from the magic world. This slice-of-life graphic novel is strongest when focusing on its main characters’ romance. Other elements of the plot seem thin, including the strangely intense antagonist whose motivations and plans are never rectified. Characters tend to speak in monologue, providing exposition but slowing the pace of a relatively low-stakes narrative. The muted blue monochrome palette, with charming pink accents emphasizing moments of magic and emotion, is visually appealing but saps dynamism from a story that needs it. Readers will enjoy the creative paneling that showcases Margot’s airborne adventures on her broom, Stanley’s endearing antics, and the excited thrum of the girls’ climactic musical performance. Most main characters are cued as white.
VERDICT A pleasant, additional purchase to round out YA graphic novel collections.

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