Random House/Graphix. Apr. 2020. 208p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9780593119990.
Gr 8 Up–Sparks fly between a scrappy witch and a young woman in this gorgeous graphic novel fantasy. When an argument breaks out between Lelek, a witch who travels the land selling amulets, and a villager, Sanja intervenes. Impressed by Sanja’s swordplay, Lelek enlists the girl to teach her to fight, and Sanja, eager for a life away from her father and brothers, accepts. Sanja knows little about witches, other than what she’s heard from rumors, but she’s curious to learn more—like, is witch blood really poisonous? (No.) And are witches’ souls contained in the candles that float above their heads? That last one is a more complicated question, at least for Lelek, whose soul was split in two when she was younger; she’s been searching for it ever since. The pair move from town to town so Lelek can gain experience (and a bit of money) sparring with other witches—a popular pastime that sells tickets. Though Lelek and Sanja start off bickering, in spite of themselves, they become fast friends, and their relationship turns romantic as Sanja learns more about how witches are marginalized and Lelek contends with past trauma. Most of the characters are women, and there are other positive lesbian relationships depicted. Featuring muted colors and intricate details, the stunning artwork has a manga-esque flair. The panel work is also well rendered, and though there’s not an abundance of text, it’s always easy to tell what is happening in a scene.
VERDICT Teens looking to branch out from shojo manga will eagerly pick up this romantic fantasy.

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