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Zatanna : the jewel of Gravesend
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Publishers Weekly Review
Arden (The Casquette Girls) and illustrator de Leon's fresh take on Zatanna Starr's origin, set in Coney Island, Brooklyn, is both a captivating introduction for newcomers and a quirky new adventure for existing fans. As the daughter of illustrious magician Ezra and his stage assistant Lola, white, camera-shy Zatanna is expected to enjoy the spotlight but decides that she'd rather be behind the scenes. After Ezra, who's been pestering her to join his act, coerces her into participating in his show, her stage fright forces her into the wings. Seeking distraction, Zatanna, Russian boyfriend Alexei, and best friends Izzy and Kenia, who have feelings for each other and cue respectively as Romani and Trinidadian American, attend a mysterious circus, which inexplicably disappears the next morning. Zatanna suddenly begins seeing strange mirror-script that only she understands, and further research endangers her once peaceful life. While some character designs are visually similar, causing confusion, de Leon renders entrancing sunsets and mystical atmosphere with a lush pinky-purple palette. Arden steadily develops Zatanna's magical abilities using expert pacing, and a large cast that feels distinct and fully fleshed out, making for a bewitching summer read. Ages 14--up. (July)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up--In this newest young adult graphic novel, Arden revisits the origins of everyone's favorite backward-talking magician, Zatanna. The book begins with its lead desperately resisting a life of stage magic and completely unaware of her abilities. As the story unfolds, though, Zatanna discovers her hidden powers while being hit with plot twist after plot twist. While this has the potential to grow completely overwhelming, Arden does an admirable job of keeping things friendly for new readers while also modernizing decades of backstory. Unfortunately, the ambitions of the story don't always live up to the execution. Characterization, in particular, is lacking. Zatanna's friends feel like paint-by-numbers characters, and their motivations in the latter part of the story are only in service to the plot. The art, by contrast, is consistently engaging, with gorgeous color work. There's a solid flow from panel to panel with some clever layouts along the way. VERDICT An interesting story with a killer boardwalk setting and strong artwork that's tailor-made for newcomers. While the characterizations get muddled, it's still worth a look for collections where graphic novels about magic are popular.--Nate Hipple
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