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?

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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.

Cookies and Clairvoyance Review

Cookies and Clairvoyance by Bailey Cates

Baker Katie Lightfoot serves up enchanted delicacies and tracks down a malicious murderer in the newest installment of this New York Times bestselling series…

Hedgewitch Katie Lightfoot is juggling wedding preparations, a visit from her father, and home renovations on top of her long hours at the Honeybee Bakery, where she and her aunt Lucy imbue their yummy cookies and pastries with beneficial magic. But when firefighter Randy Post is accused of murdering a collector of rarities, and his prints are on the statue that was used to kill the man, Katie steps in.

Randy is not only Katie’s fianc√©’s coworker, but also the boyfriend of fellow spellbook club member and witch Bianca Devereaux. Bianca and Declan are both sure Randy is innocent, and so is Katie. However, to prove it she’ll have to work with ornery detective Peter Quinn again–and this time around he knows she’s more than your everyday baker.

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I stumbled upon this book while wandering around Forbidden Planet. It caught my eye because it was a mass market paperback, it has a cat and some food on the cover and it implies magic or something. I tried to find the first ones (this is the 8th book in the series) but Forbidden Planet didn’t have them in the store. [I have bought them all now]

I enjoyed it a lot and it was exactly what I wanted. Plus it comes with two recipes at the back fo the book for two of the many pastries/cakes/muffins/cookies featured in the book. I haven’t tried baking either of them, but they read well (as in, they seem to be solid recipes with delicious results).

Of course, as you can guess, this book talks a lot about many foods. And I ended up craving some of them. It also explains why they choose certain combinations and what they are attempting to achieve with them as a “magical boost”. Calming ingredients to help calm nerves, things like that.

Which brings me to the magic. One of the things I liked is that this isn’t a “magic solves it all” kind of book. It is more of a “magic can boost things and help, but it isn’t the holy grail”. It places magic as part of your daily life, as a small boost rather than this impossible thing far far away.

Despite missing the backstory worth of seven books, I didn’t feel too lost reading the book. It feeds you enough “reminders” of backstory without being annoying or too much.

Now to plot, this was a cute story with many mini plots. Like Katie trying to solve and right a murder, clearing the name of someone innocent (or not?). But also there is the story of getting her home rebuilt and ready for her wedding (I enjoyed this part even more considering I had just had my wedding when I read it), and it is the story of the murder victim and his family/social circle. There’s a few other plot points that were interesting but they’d be considered spoilers and are worth not spoiling them.

All in all, for a cute witchy easy read, with loads of food and a murder mystery all wrapped in one, this book does well and it was a good read for a long flight (and airport time).

The Boy Who Flew With Dragons Review

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The Boy Who Flew With Dragons by Andy Shepherd

Tomas can’t imagine life without his little dragon Flicker. He’s become more than a pet – he’s a friend like no other. And growing dragons on the dragonfruit tree in the garden with his friends Ted, Kat and Kai is the most amazing thing ever. But Tomas has promised Grandad something – that he and his friends will let their dragons go back to where they belong. The only problem is – that isn’t such an easy thing to do. Not when they are still having so much fun with dragons Flicker, Sunny, Crystal and Dodger. Not when they still have to work out where the dragons’ home is, and how to get the dragons to leave. And not when Tomas is so close to uncovering the true story of the mysterious dragonfruit tree …

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This is the third (and I think last) in the series. And I had preordered it as soon as I finished the first one because how can you not fall in love with this series?

We take off a little after the end of the previous book, and little Loli gets a dragon, and oh wow I don’t want to spoil it, but it also points to the fact Tomas doesn’t want to get rid of the dragons, but he also doesn’t want to break his promise to Grandad.

Then of course something happens and things get interesting and the dragons do have to leave. But also, we get a little more backstory on how the tree came to be in their garden and about the Lost Dragon City (which is where the tree kinda came from). Part of me wanted to read the adventures of how the city was first found, maybe a next book idea? I would totally buy that!

The artwork, the “burnt” pages, and everything makes this book also quite lovely. I basically sat down and had to read it one go. And it went by too fast, but it had some good points and great lessons in tehre without feeling like the same thing over and over again.

Moon recommends

Go read the very first one, The Boy Who Grew Dragons, as it is the start of the story and it is worth it, and now you can get all three of them and read them in one go. (Or maybe try to space them to make it last? I don’t know what kind of person you are, but whatever option is, that one).