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The midwinter witch
2019
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A conclusion to the trilogy that includes The Hidden Witch finds Aster defying tradition by competing in an annual witch tournament, while Ariel struggles to connect the mysterious witch of her nightmares to her own past. Simultaneous. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)

The acclaimed graphic novel world of The Witch Boy and The Hidden Witch comes to a thrilling conclusion in this story of friendship, family, and finding your true power.
Magic has a dark side . . .

Aster always looks forward to the Midwinter Festival, a reunion of the entire Vanissen family that includes competitions in witchery and shapeshifting. This year, he's especially excited to compete in the annual Jolrun tournament-as a witch. He's determined to show everyone that he's proud of who he is and what he's learned, but he knows it won't be easy to defy tradition.

Ariel has darker things on her mind than the Festival-like the mysterious witch who's been visiting her dreams, claiming to know the truth about Ariel's past. She appreciates everything the Vanissens have done for her. But Ariel still craves a place where she truly belongs.

The Festival is a whirlwind of excitement and activity, but for Aster and Ariel, nothing goes according to plan. When a powerful and sinister force invades the reunion, threatening to destroy everything the young witches have fought for, can they find the courage to fight it together? Or will dark magic tear them apart?
- (Scholastic)

Author Biography

Molly Knox Ostertag is the author and illustrator of the acclaimed graphic novels The Witch Boy and The Hidden Witch and the illustrator of several projects for older readers, including the webcomic Strong Female Protagonist and Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn. She grew up in the forests of upstate New York and graduated in 2014 from the School of Visual Arts, where she studied cartooning and illustration. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her girlfriend and several pets. Visit her online at mollyostertag.com.
- (Scholastic)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* The third installment of the Witch Boy series revolves around the Midwinter Festival, where Aster's extended family gathers each year for a magical competition. He decides to enter the contest meant for witches—effectively his public coming-out party—despite the lingering discomfort and hostility of certain family members. Meanwhile, Aster's new witch friend Ariel has become a ward of his family, and she struggles with accepting their love, especially when her estranged aunt attempts to lure her away by poisoning her self-esteem. Here, Ostertag proves once more that she is among the brightest stars in a young generation of storytellers who speak the truth of today's youth. These are thoughtful, nuanced stories, concerned with common personal and interpersonal struggles that have gone largely unrepresented. Instead of the traditional black-and-white tales of good versus evil, Aster's adventures involve sympathetic people driven by relatable, human forces that shape their choices and relationships—for better or worse—and along the way they model a philosophy of understanding, compassion, and empathy that readers of any age will benefit from. All of that without feeling heavy-handed, and the craftwork is on-point, too, with smooth pacing, endearing characters, gripping plots, and clean, colorful, expressive artwork. Hand this series to fans of Rebecca Sugar (Steven Universe) or Noelle Stevenson (the Lumberjanes series) in search of similarly affirming, fantastical fiction of quality. Grades 4-7. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–6—In this conclusion to Aster's journey, things seem to have settled down for the witch boy and his friends. While friend Charlie and cousin Sedge attend regular nonmagic school, orphaned witch Ariel attends magic lessons with the Vanissens and is learning to control her power—somewhat. Just as she's getting used to the idea of a newfound magical family, Ariel starts having dreams: realistic visions of a long-lost aunt who is searching for her and who claims that magic is to be stolen, not shared. These dreams follow her to the Midwinter Festival, a Vanissen family reunion that includes notable magic competition the Jolrun. Aster dreams of competing as a witch, but some of his family members still don't approve. As the festival continues, friendships are strained, secrets are kept, and a surprise appearance by a villainous figure puts everyone in danger. But Aster and his friends show up for one another when it counts, embodying the possibilities of young friendship and found family through tough times and misunderstandings. Though more subdued than its counterparts, this graphic novel is a strong cap to a delightful series. A folksy palette of forest greens and browns interspersed with bursts of warmth captures the frosty outdoors and the group's cozy cabin evenings. Though newcomers will enjoy this title, those familiar with the first two entries will most appreciate the plot references and the development of each character's arc. VERDICT A heartwarming, wintry adventure that series fans will love.—Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

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