After fighting the darkness that consumed his great-uncle, young witch Aster must now help him heal.
In this sequel to Witch Boy (2017), Aster’s family has agreed to let him become a witch and take classes with the girls. His grandmother offers to help him with his studies in return for a favor: He must help remove the dark magic from her brother, the evil Mikasi, who has transformed into the beast who nearly destroyed Aster’s family. Outside Aster’s magical compound, his friend Charlie is trying to befriend the new girl at school, Ariel. Living with a foster family, Ariel has been bullied in the past and harbors deep distrust and resentment. When a darkness similar to Mikasi’s begins to overtake her, will Charlie and Aster be able to help Ariel in time? Although Aster has gained his family’s acceptance to learn magic forbidden for boys, his defiance of gender and social constraints is still in the forefront here; along a similar vein, his cousin decides that he wants to stop practicing shape-shifting altogether, defying the familial dynamic. Themes of bullying are also deftly explored, with Ariel both a victim and a bully. Ostertag’s sophomore effort is every bit as wonderful as its predecessor, with continued strong worldbuilding, lovely large and bright illustrations, and its approachable and diverse cast that runs a true-to-life spectrum encompassing white-, tan-, and dark-skinned characters as well as same-sex relationships. Aster’s biracial (black/white), Charlie’s black, and Ariel’s Latinx.
An absolutely bewitching sequel. (Graphic fantasy. 7-12)