House of Magic

Okay, kids, let’s review another semi-recent graphic novel. This time, it’s the middle-grade comic Zatanna and the House of Secrets, written by Matthew Cody and illustrated by Yoshi Yoshitani.

So here’s Zatanna Zatara, a middle-school kid who lives in a big, grand house with her dad, a struggling but enthusiastic and eerily talented stage magician. Zatanna has the usual school troubles, mainly focusing on trying to decide whether she should stay friends with the geeky kid or abandon him for more popular kids.

And then one night, everything goes weird. Zatanna finds a letter to her father from her supposedly dead mother. Then she sneaks out to go to a dance with the popular kids, toting along her dad’s pet rabbit Pocus. And a creepy blue-skinned kid steals Pocus’ collar.

And when she makes it back home, her dad has vanished, her home has turned into an Escher house, and it’s been taken over by the evil Witch Queen, who plans to take control of all the secret magic her father has hidden inside.

And it gets weirder, too. Pocus is able to talk. The house is full of strange supernatural hazards, as well as the Witch Queen’s goblins. The blue-faced kid is the Witch Queen’s son — Klarion the Witch Boy! And Zatanna is able to cast spells by speaking backwards! But it’s hard to think of the right words to say, and how to pronounce them in reverse, especially during a crisis.

Can Zatanna figure out a way to save her father, save Pocus, save her home, and defeat the Witch Queen?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is a fun and funny comic with some enjoyably sharp artwork and fantastic atmosphere. There’s not a lot more to say about it — which isn’t really a bad thing, right? Sometimes all you need is an excellent comic with great artwork.

We tend to assume that middle-grade graphic novels are for kids in junior high — it seems to me this one is aimed slightly younger. I think it’d be best for older elementary school kids.

So go pick it up — it’s a fun comic with a good story and seriously fantastic-looking art.

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