Narwhal’s Otter Friend Review

Narwhal’s Otter Friend by Ben Clanton

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

This is the fourth book in the Narwhal and Jelly series and it is as delightful as the previous ones have been.

The artwork is “simple” but it still manages to convey a lot of emotion and environment, plus the text is big and eays to read. Tehre is a lot of cuteness and humour and you get some true facts about the characters (or rather, the animals behind the characters).

In this book, we encounter an otter who insists it has had all sorts of adventures, one crazier than the other, and Jelly is very skeptical about this. But also, Jelly is a little jealous of how easily Narwhal seems to have replaced their friendship for Otter.

So Jelly sets out to find a new friend.

As per usual, the level of cuteness, amount of necessary waffles (yum, this is always a perfect thing), plus the superhero mini comic and the facts we get make it a fun easy read. It is also great for children and I find it a great read as an adult when I want something to give my brain a respite from work or a tedious/intense task. It is a little bit of sunshine and joy in the day.

The only complaint is that the books are too short, I wish they were longer, but they definitely are great and I will keep getitng thema s they come out (I certainly hope for more of them). Highly recommended!

Witchy Review

Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries

In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Those that are strong enough are conscripted by the Witch Guard, who enforce the law in peacetime and protect the land during war. However, those with hair judged too long are pronounced enemies of the kingdom, and annihilated. This is called a witch burning.

Witchy is a comic about the young witch Nyneve, who is haunted by the death of her father and the threat the Witch Guard poses to her own life. When conscription rolls around, Nyneve has a choice to make; join the institution complicit in her father’s death, or stand up for her ideals?

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Another one that I had bought a while ago, had put aside for a rainy day and ended up brinign out for #Februwitchy. And at least in this case it is exactly perfect. The title and the main character fit well the readathon.

I started reading Witchy when it came out as a webcomic, then lost my craze for webcomics and forgot about it. But then saw the book, it caught my eye and here it is.

Witchy is set in a world where your magic is stated by how long your hair is and how long it manages to grow. Nyneve’s dad was killed because of his hair (to her understanding) and she despises the rules and the world that can have a loyal subject and kill him the next moment. So she hides the length of her hair and uses a charm to make it look shorter.

It helps that her magic is a bit unreliable and not very good, even if her hair is long enough that it shouldn’t be this bad. But when she is discovered to have great strategies and that it has all been a glamour, things come into question and she makes a terrible and hard decision.

I remember being surprised by her decision and sacrifice, and it was more or less as far as I had gotten on the webcomic, so it was nice to read some more. The artwork has an interesting colour palette that works with the world it represents and it changes to show different parts of it.

It’s hard to describe everythign that is going on in the world and there’s still a lot left pending, but one thing that defines Witchy is how “human” Nyneve is. She is not a hero, and she’s just trying her best to go forward and do what can bring her joy. She is interesting as a character as she’s not predictable and when you thnk “this is going to go this way” it turns out it isn’t.

There is LGBTQ+ representation, lots about magic and spells and a diverse cast of characters and creatures. I can only recommend this and hope for the next volume.

Hex Vet: The Flying Surgery Review

Hex Vet: The Flying Surgery by Sam Davies

It’s time for the monthly “Winged Creature Clinic” at Willows Whisper Veterinary Practice, where flying creatures from all over come to get treated. But when Glenn the Wildlife Warlock brings in an injured flying pig that looks like it may have been mistreated, panic strikes and a greater mystery unfolds. 

It’s up to everyone’s favorite vet witches in training, Nan and Clarion,  to keep everything under control at the chaotic clinic while Dr. Talon is away. Will Nan and Clarion save the day and keep their jobs? Or are their days at Willows Whisper numbered?

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Another read for #Februwitchy. At first I thought this wouldn’t make it because it said it’d be delivered in March, but somehow it managed to get home before that and I got to read it for the readathon.

I think the biggest strenght of this series is the artwork, cute creatures and interesting ideas of what the creatures can do.

This time around the clinic goes to the skies for a “once a month” type of clinic that sees to the winged creatures. The main surgery head, Dr. Talon ends up being called on an issue that requires her attention and therefore leaves the two trainees and the head nurse on their own.

We get to see more of the head nurse and why he is a bit less nice to others. The way this is dealt with in the end was interesting and felt like a good way of saying “not everyone gets it right, sometimes we do things wrong, we apologise and try to do better”.

The flying pig is super cute and the whole adventure turns out to play into the dynamics of our two trainees with some funny moments and a few tense ones, plus some turning of tables and preconceptions that show that sometimes what you think is the thing isn’t and making assumptions can cause more trouble or make something that is going one way, go another, potentially worse way.

I enjoyed it, it still has some minor grammar/editing issues with the text, but toherwise, it is really cute, easy to read and I want to know more and read more.

Mooncakes Review

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

You want a book about witches? You’ve got it. You want representation? This book has it in spades, not just for LGBTQ+ but also for disabilities. You want a cute love story? Mooncakes has it. And if the title sounds like there should be food in it, why yes, there is also food!

Seriously, Mooncakes is a bunch of cute. Nova and Tam are fully fleshed out with worries, individual challenges and stories that still mix together by their past, present and potential future. And the grandmothers are awesome. There is so mcuh to say about all the characters and the value they add, even if some are there you make you smile and that is all, but still.

The world sounds very intriguing and I wanted to know more of how it is, and how magic and non magic coexists, as I do want to know what else they do at the bookstore/coffee shop thing Nova’s grandmothers have.

And the artwork is wonderfully detailed and you can see the care that went into making it become more than just words in a page, but to make the story and characters real and unique. At the end there is a “how this becomes a comic” and it was awesome to see the progress of the description and then how it becomes a full page.

I cannot recommend this enough because it is incredibly cute, awesome and I just need everyone to enjoy it!

Hex Vet: Witches in Training Review

Hex Vet: Witches in Training by Sam Davies

In a world where magic is an ordinary part of daily life, two young apprentice veterinarians pursue their dreams of caring for supernatural creatures. 

Have you ever wondered where witches’ cats go when they pull a claw? Or what you do with a pygmy phoenix with a case of bird flu? Nan and Clarion have you covered. They’re the best veterinarian witches of all time—at least they’re trying to be. But when an injured spectral wolf beast from another realm stumbles into their lives, Nan and Clarion have to put down their enchanted potions and face the biggest test of their magical, medical careers…outside of the clinic. 

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

This was the first book I read for #Februwitchy. And of course didn’t add it to my TBR because completely forgot. I thoguht it’d be a good start to get me wanting to read more. Start easy so I pick up and feel like I can do it.

So far that tactic has worked.

I found this book while browsing for other graphic novels and thought the premise was cute, veterinarian withces for mythical and fantastic creatures, yes please.

It did not disappoint, I want a bugbear and I just really enjoyed seeing all the critters they have in the clinic. The artwork was fitting to the story, it felt magical and cute and just a tinge scary when it needed to be. I can see that there’s a lot of more story to come and that there is potential for many plots and things alongside the already revealed interesting personal plot points of the two apprentices.

The only thing I had issues was that some panels and bubbles have grammatical errors which kept breaking the immersion that had happened. And it was short, I wish it had been longer because I was enjoying it too much and wanted to know more of the world, of the creatures, of their worlds and who they are.

All in all, a cute enjoyable graphic novel about magic, friendship, teamwork and critters.

The Boxer – Interview with author

Today I am doing something slightly out of the ordinary. You all know I don’t pitch things just because, I only do if I care about them.

So here goes. I am interviewing Dominic Archer, the mind behind the Kickstarter graphic novel project, A Boxer. This novel details the experience of a homosexual man struggling to find his place between two worlds, feeling himself equally impassioned and alienated by both the boxing and LGBTQ+ communities.

This is a powerful story in an artwork style that reminds me (personally) of collecting the strips of comics from the newspapers on Sundays, that old school pre DC/Marvel style that made me fall deeply for The Phantom or Prince Valiant.

I thought it was better if Dominic would tell us more about the project and answer some questions rather than me trying to convince you this is a wonderful idea to support and sit behind. The following is a Q&A we did beforehand for today.


Q: Could you please tell us briefly about The Boxer?

Dominic: A Boxer is the story of an up-and-coming fighter who struggles between his sexual identity and the masculine culture demanded by male combat sports

Q: What made Mike Shepard, the main character, come alive in your mind and have a story to tell?

Dominic: Mike is a character based upon my own thoughts and experiences with the LGBTQ community. I used to teach in China and encountered a number of students who openly expressed their sexuality to me while I, someone who has had regular interactions with the community itself, have always been questioning where exactly I fit in. Mike’s identity crisis is one of longing to belong, but finding it impossible.

A graphic novel is a different medium to just sitting down and writing a story, was it hard to write it for an artist to turn the words into images?

To me, a graphic novel is no more or less hard than writing prose, it is just a different process. I have been writing scripts since I was 16, and comic scripts since I was 17 so it really is just a case of how you approach the work. It is very different creating a visual scene for a reader of fiction, to an instructional description that an illustrator can then realise in a piece of sequential art.

Q: Thanks for letting us understand how you approach it, so could you talk us through the process of creating a page?

Dominic: This is a tough question, because every page is completely different. And each page in each book is different, because the very structure of the page is based around the flow and pacing of the story you were trying to tell. For example, if you are trying to impart a large amount of visual information, or make an impact on the reader, then you may just want a single image on the page. But if you are attempting to convey the intensity of a conversation, then the page will have to be broken down into a number of panels. However, if you have too many panels, then the dialogue can become unreadable. Action pages will be constructed differently to moments of emotional silence, but all are structured based upon the thematic requirements of the overall book. Otherwise they feel disconnected and that is when the work falls apart.

Q: That’s a lot of things to consider while working a single page! Let’s talk about the artists, what can you tell us?

Dominic: We have an award-winning, international team of creators working on a boxer. Gary Welsh is a Scottish artist with a Masters degree in Comics and Graphic Novels. Marc Casilli actually has two Masters degrees and is a teacher of comics to low income communities in São Paulo, Brazil. Amanda Maranda is another Brazilian illustrator, and she is the winner of the Dente Award for best independent comic. Hassan is the winner of an Eisner award, which is basically like winning an Oscar for us comic book nerds. It’s an incredibly talented team, which forces me to improve the quality of my writing to make sure that I am not the one letting us down!

Q: Gotta keep up with that art team then! Now, there’s a Kickstarter project, why go through Kickstarter? What are the pros/cons?

Dominic: Previously I have self-funded all of my comics work, but this is incredibly expensive. Artists are talented creators, who deserve to be paid for their time and effort, it is their job after all! But it makes it very difficult for writers like myself to put work together when each page can cost well over £150. It also means that a 100 page graphic novel like A Boxer is too expensive for our publisher BHP comics to fund. So Kickstarter is really our best way forward! The downside is that it may not go through, but if that happens we are just back to where we started and will find another way to make the art happen.

Q: Being an artist myself (but not one that does it as main job) I can fully understand wanting to support them. I truly appreciate that! Let’s talk a little on the hopeful and futuristic (?) side… what are your dreams for this story and beyond?

Dominic: My dream for the book is just to see it realised. Writing comics is different to writing a novel, in that with a novel the main thing stopping you is your personal situation. For a lot of us, that is a challenge all its own! We all struggle with realising our potential. But in comics you also have to deal with making sure other people are on board too. As a writer, you are the de facto project manager, promoter/marketer, agent, often editor and financer which brings a lot of responsibility and stress. So to see our work come to life will be an incredibly rewarding feeling.

Q: That sounds like a crazy amount of work and effort for just one graphic novel/comic. Anything else you’d like to share with us? 

Dominic: The Kickstarter is running until the end of February and the cheapest option is a digital comic for just £5. If you’d like to back us further there is a paperback edition for £15 or you can just give us all of your savings, although it is likely that I will feel a little guilty when I accept it.


And that is all for now. Hope you this view into why and how the project came to be. If you are interested in supporting it on Kickstarter, you can find it here. There you will also find the first six pages, whereas I am only including the first one here. Go, be curious and support art!

The Midwinter Witch Review

The Midwinter Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag

The acclaimed graphic novel world of The Witch Boy and The Hidden Witch comes to a thrilling conclusion in this story of friendship, family, and finding your true power.
Magic has a dark side . . .

Aster always looks forward to the Midwinter Festival, a reunion of the entire Vanissen family that includes competitions in witchery and shapeshifting. This year, he’s especially excited to compete in the annual Jolrun tournament-as a witch. He’s determined to show everyone that he’s proud of who he is and what he’s learned, but he knows it won’t be easy to defy tradition.

Ariel has darker things on her mind than the Festival-like the mysterious witch who’s been visiting her dreams, claiming to know the truth about Ariel’s past. She appreciates everything the Vanissens have done for her. But Ariel still craves a place where she truly belongs.

The Festival is a whirlwind of excitement and activity, but for Aster and Ariel, nothing goes according to plan. When a powerful and sinister force invades the reunion, threatening to destroy everything the young witches have fought for, can they find the courage to fight it together? Or will dark magic tear them apart?

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

I was very excited to read this and had it on preorder. The two previous books had me hooked and I wondered where this one was going to take us and what interesting adventures were coming.

The focus of it is Ariel, and the internal fight she has on being a good with rather than just evil and ruining everything. I wanted to enjoy it as much as the other two, but there was a lot of making the adults do things that didn’t go very well with their characters for the sake of making the plot a bit more intense and more confusing. I didn’t want to try to rethink my whole view of a character that I thought was good for the last two books and is now giving bad vibes (worse part, the reason for the shifty behaviour is silly, something a child might do not an adult and not the character that does). So I guess, that made it less good to me.

I still liked seeing their friendship finding new spaces and figuring out what is best and how to go along with having a new witch that is adept next to Aster. Good competition. There is still a lot of Aster having to prove himself which detracted a little from Ariel’s story. I can see the reason behind wanting to explore that part, but it meant you split the story too much between Ariel and Aster and their conflicts and tried to pack it all one book. Maybe it would’ve been better to have it be a set of four books rather than a trilogy. That way there’ll be more space to explore both things, including Ariel’s past and family and all that.

The big reveal about Ariel’s family is too short and rushed, which felt like a shame. However, their friendship between the three of them is still strong and they’re a good team of friends.

The art is still good, the world was nice to go back to, I just wished it had been done a little better, as it left me feeling like “oh, it finished already? This is the end of this story/trilogy? Really? That’s it?” rather than with a bang or at the very least some internal satisfaction of seieng htem grow into themselves (which they kinda do, but it is rushed and it feels a little forced).

Still, the trilogy itself is fun, I enjoyed it and it was an interesting concept. Wish there were more to come.