Author: Emma Steinkellner
ISBN: 978-1-5344-3145-4 (paperback) 978-1-5344-3146-1 (hardback)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 stars
Content Warnings: none
Purchased or Received Copy: Received ARC from Netgalley
Moth Hush’s story of discovery is the center of The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner. It’s a middle-grade graphic novel that follows 13-year-old Moth as her family’s past rather suddenly comes to her attention. While learning about her town’s witch-hunting history, her own powers bubble to the surface. Her mother hoped that she would take after her non-magical father rather than her magical mother.
After her mother refuses to teach her how to use her powers, Moth takes her magical training in to her own hands. She meets the cat who would become her familiar, a cat that houses the spirit of a descaled family friend: Joe Laszlo. Through her mother’s diary, Moth learns her mother’s past and the relationship between the Hush and Kramer families of Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts.
The Okay Witch is a great example of how history can be incredibly uncomfortable. Moth’s school teaches a sanitized version of the Founder’s Bluff Witch Hunt, an event that is re-created in her middle school every year as part of a festival that celebrates it. Many places have uncomfortable history that gets sanitized to make it easier to grapple with. It’s difficult to face that if you’re white in America, there’s a chance your ancestors owned slaves. Or were conquistadores. Or fought for the South in the Civil War. If you accept that things that happened long ago have ripple effects into the modern day, then you have to accept that there the modern day is inextricably linked to the uncomfortable past.
Charlie, the new kid in town and Moth’s friend, shows how people can come to term with their uncomfortable past and move forward. His father is the mayor of Founder’s Bluff, and a direct descendent of the people that have been hunting Moth’s family for centuries. He’s not responsible for the actions his ancestors took, but he wants to make an effort to heal the damage that they caused going into the future.
The Okay Witch is a graphic novel full of heart. The art style is delightful to look at and adds so much personality to the story. It would make a great addition to anyone’s library, not just middle schoolers. The ending hints at a sequel, and I hope that I get to see more of Moth and Charlie’s adventures in the future.