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Halloween in July | Books in Brief

Halloween in July: Detail from the cover of Witches of Brooklyn

You’ve heard of Christmas in July, so why not Halloween in July? Who doesn’t like a good spooky story, or a story filled with magical powers, all year round? Here’s a taste of a few titles I’ve read that are an excellent Halloween fit.

Halloween in July: Cover of Forever Home

Forever Home
By Jenna Ayoub
Kaboom!, February 2021
Ages 10 and up

Willow is a military brat and has been moving around most of her childhood. She is tired from moving from place to place. When her parents buy an old house for cheap, she is determined that it will be their last stop! But to her dismay, the house is filled with ghosts. Ghosts that can be downright scary and have already chased out the previous owners. Spunky Willow won’t cower from the ghosts and instead finds a way to coexist, but her parents might not be on board. Willow is afraid if she doesn’t get the ghost problem under control, her parents might get scared away and they would move once again.

Readers will enjoy following Willow’s plot to keep her parents from selling the house by proving that there are real ghosts who live there. The coloring has a wonderful balance of dark and moody (because it’s a ghost story) and vivid and eye-popping colors.

Middle-grade readers will clamor to read this endearing story with spooky bits. Forever Home is a stand-alone story, but hint hint, Willow and her ghostly friends should make a comeback!

Halloween in July: Cover of Witches of Brooklyn

Witches of Brooklyn
By Sophie Escabasse
Random House Graphics, 2020
Ages 11 and up

When Effie is dropped off at her aunts’ house in the middle of the night and receives a less than gracious welcome, she hopes to leave immediately. But her mother has died and she doesn’t know her father; the aunts are her only living relatives, and they are charged with her care. Effie and the aunts have begun to acclimate to each other when Effie discovers that her aunts are witches with magical powers—and that she too has dormant powers. When Tilly Shoo, a famous pop singer turns to the aunts to heal her after her face turns a deep shade of red, it takes extreme magical skill and teamwork to heal the star.

With one likable character after another, The Witches of Brooklyn should be a surefire hit with middle-grade readers. The Brooklyn neighborhood is a supporting character, and Escabasse brings it to life. The artwork pops with colors that change to fit the story: Dark, ominous colors at night during the outdoor scenes, and bright colors throughout, giving the story energy.

Look for a sequel coming this August.

Halloween in July: Cover of The Montague Twins

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
By Nathan Page & Drew Shannon
Random House Graphics, 2020
Ages 12 and up

Of the three titles, this is the darkest of them all, in both artwork and story. The Montague twins have been living with their adoptive family in a small New England town and using magic to solve mysteries. After finding the lost dog of a wealthy family, David, the boys’ adoptive father, recruits a colleague to teach his daughter Charlie and the twins, Pete and Al, real (and responsible) magic. On the very same day, a storm unleashes a witch that is tied to the disappearance of three teenage girls, one an old friend of Charlie.

There are so many twists and turns in this story! Readers won’t want to stop turning the pages, but the action is dark and scary. The twins are a lot of fun and Charlie is spunky. The entire story has a retro feel, which fits with its 1960s setting. Even the artwork is a throwback to the artwork in comics of that era. Dark ominous colors for most of the book lend to the dark, ominous feel of the story. This is the first in a series; a second title was released in December. This is a surefire hit for readers looking for a dark and witchy tale.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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