The Witch Boy
Author, Molly Knox
by Lane Mochow
The graphic novel series "Witch Boy" by Molly Knox Ostertag, wife of the creator of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, tells the story of Aster, a thirteen year old boy in a magical family. All men in his family are supposed to become shape-shifters, and all women become witches. But Aster is different; he cannot shift, no matter how many nights he attempts to do so. He eavesdrops on the girls' spell training, gleaning anything he can before he is found and forced to leave. He is drawn to magic, but at what cost?
As a fan of Noelle Stevenson's She-Ra, I was excited when I found "The Witch Boy" at Books-A-Million. I read the whole 211 pages in an hour, so engrossed in the story I could not pace myself. The art style is simple, yet striking, with an interesting plot to boot. It is a young adult series, with simple language and lots of color, but is captivating even for adults.
As a transgender man, I cannot help but correlate Aster's experience with my own. Though in the trilogy never explicitly states, I feel like Aster could easily be a representation of gender-nonconforming people. One of the reasons (that does not give away the plot) is that he keeps his hair long, in spite of his family's protests, as I did when I cut my hair short. His pink clothes on the cover originally made me think he was supposed to be female. I remember making minute changes like this that made me feel more comfortable with my body. The other reason is that he feels like he cannot connect with his family, because he does not fit into his designated role as a shifter.
Ostertag agrees with this idea in an interview with Rogue's Portal,
"There are definitely LGBTQ themes in the book, and I’m very happy to have it interpreted in a number of ways. I wanted to make a book about the feeling of being young and queer, of knowing certain things about yourself and having other things be mysteries, and about the disconnect between how you want to be and how people treat you."
The inclusivity does not stop there. Aster makes a friend beyond his family's land that is in the normal, modern world named Charlie, who is in a wheelchair. Aster never points it out, and she explains on her own why. I think his interactions with her are an excellent example to young adults about how to treat someone with a disability with respect.
Overall, I feel "The Witch Boy" trilogy has a riveting storyline that is well executed. It is definitely worth the read!
Lane Mochow is an emerging poet and story teller. He won first place in the 2018 Tennessee Magazine Poet's Playground in the 19-22 category. He has contributed poetry reviews at Sacred Chickens. Lane is working on a chapbook at this time.