Moonstruck, Vol. 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis (illustrated by Shae Beagle)

Read: 16 October, 2018

I really love the artwork! The colours really pop, and every character has a very unique style that made it easy to keep track of who was who. I also liked the two different art styles to show what was part of the main story, and what was part of the in-world book.

My only complaint is with the pacing. It starts off nice and slow as we get to meet our characters and see their rapport. Then the mystery starts, and we see a little of how Chet, the character who is mainly affected by the mystery, copes (or not) with what has happened.

All’s good for that first 2/3rds. After that, however, the story seems like it’s rushing to a finish line. There were times when I thought I might have accidentally skipped a page because things were happening so fast. Who are the baddies? Why are they doing what they are doing? There’s a bit in there about trying to rid the world of magic, which would fit with the central theme (the main character, Julie, is embarrassed of being a werewolf and wishes she were a plain human), but that’s just one line. It’s a blink-and-you’ve-missed-it moment that doesn’t do much more than simply nod to the central theme to remind us that it still exists.

The whole final conflict (starting with tracking down the ghost to find out where the final conflict would take place) could have been at least twice as long, and given Julie’s choice to stop the baddie some actual weight.

Aside from that, I did really like this. The characters are interesting, I love all the inclusion, and the art style is perfect for the story being told.

Curse of a Winter Moon by Mary Casanova

Read: 20 March, 2009

Twelve-year-old Marius has been burdened with the care of his little brother, Jean-Pierre, ever since their mother died in childbirth. But Jean-Pierre was born on Christmas Eve and the villagers believe that he carries the mark of the loup garou – the werewolf. With the longest night of the year approaching and the villagers thirsting for heretic blood, will Marius be able to protect his little brother from the clutches of the Catholic Church?

POSITIVE: The story is short and reasonably entertaining. It’s obviously written for children in the 10-14 age range and makes for a great introduction to the Inquisition and schism between the Catholic and Protestant Churches. I could definitely see quite a few teachable moments scattered throughout the novel.

NEGATIVE: However, there just didn’t seem to be that much of a point to the story. I never felt swept into the story, or even that I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. There just wasn’t much enthusiasm in the narrative. Admittedly, it could just be a subjective conflict with the narrative style, but I usually get swept into stories – even poorly-written ones. The ending fellt a little arbitrary as well.

Overall, I really can’t say that anything was bad about the story, it just didn’t take my interest. It’s a shame because the subject matter is definitely up my alley. As I said above, it’s worth reading if only for the teachable moments. It’s short enough that it doesn’t really need more of an argument than that for its usefulness.

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