Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky

Cover of Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky

“Is any of it true, what they say about witches?”
“Like what?”
“Like…that their blood is poisonous, or that they keep their soul in their candle, and if it goes out, the witch dies, too?”

Lelek the witch blows through town one day, kidnapping the peasant girl Sanja as she goes. The unlikely pair grow more entangled as they travel together, looking for the missing half of Lelek’s soul—the true source of her magical abilities. Both are seeking to learn, in their own ways, how to be whole again. This serialized story takes the readers across an enchanting continent with exotic and charming locals as the two women seek what they desire. However, they may end up finding something else that they didn’t expect.

So, I’m in the minority of people that really enjoyed this book. For me it wasn’t so much the story itself, or the characters, but I liked the whimiscal world-building. I liked looking at the various plants and scenery from everywhere they journeyed and how different the villages looked. They ranged from people that lived primarily on boats to earthen mounds. The color palette was beautiful to me and the illustrations charming. However, as with most short graphic novels, I felt that there were some things missing, mostly details to help flesh out the plot and their relationship, but I still really enjoyed this overall.

Almost all of the characters in this world seem to be queer female characters, which was pretty amazing. They flirted, had fun, but mostly they just led normal lives. I also really enjoyed the positive representation in our sturdy girl Sanja. Some reviewers say that they feel like Lelek is tokenized because of her skin color, but I personally didn’t really feel that way. There are quite a few characters with darker skin colors in the book with important roles. Well, as important of a role as anyone can have in a side character in a book that is just a sliver over two hundred pages.

Their story isn’t fully laid out on the pages, with a lot of the development in the plot and their relationship up to interpretation from the reader. It’s not always clear how much time has passed between each segment of the story, but if the reader follows along on the map, they can infer that larger amounts of time have passed than what we actually get to see on paper. After all, this story is at least partially a journey story with them traveling around from village to village as they seek the other half of Lelek’s soul.

I could make an argument that this would benefit from being twenty pages longer. There were certain aspects of their relationship that I would have liked seeing fleshed out a little bit more. Especially in the beginning, where it just basically went from a kidnapping to best friends. Like Lelek kidnaps Sanja and it’s not addressed ever again. Is it Stockholm Syndrome? Magic? Love at first sight? I don’t know. But this and a few other things could have use a little more fleshing out.

Overall, I think this is a very cute little graphic novel. And while I do think it could be improved upon with a few more pages and some editing, I really enjoyed it. However, the author stated that the creation of this graphic novel was for her and no one else. She wanted to write about what she wanted to. Based on what I’ve seen here I would love to read another comic by this author sometime in the future and would recommend this to anyone looking for some queer girls and warm and fuzzies.

Have you read Witchlight? What did you think? What’s your favorite graphic novel? Let me know in the comments below!

Cover of Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky

Important Bits:
Length: 208 pages
Published: April 14, 2020 by Random House Graphic
Content Warnings: Emotional Abuse, Bullying, Death of a Character, Death of a Parent, Fantasy Violence
Awards: None yet.
Also by: Witchlight (2016), Two of Us (2019), Coming Back (2021)

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Witchlight-Jessi-Zabarsky/9780593119990/?a_aid=theGreatBookWyrm

I am a book depository affiliate, so if you buy the book through this link I do gain a little commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

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