Sometimes I go on my library’s Libby app just to browse what they have in their online collection. I was doing that one night when I stubbled upon An Embarrassment of Witches by Sophie Goldstein & Jenn Jordan. It’s a YA fantasy graphic novel about two young women navigating life after college and their changing friendship.
An Embarrassment of Witches by Sophie Goldstein (illus.) & Jenn Jordan
Life after college isn’t turning out exactly as Rory and Angela had planned. Rory, recently dumped at the gate of her flight to Australia, needs to find a new life path ASAP. What do you do with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Southeast Asian Spellcraft? Maybe her cute new housemate Guy is the answer she’s looking for (spoiler alert: he isn’t).
Meanwhile, Angela is buckling under the pressure of a high-stakes internship in a cutting-edge cryptopharmocology lab run by Rory’s controlling mother, who doesn’t know Rory is still in town… and Angela hates keeping secrets. An Embarrassment of Witches is the story of two childhood friends learning how to be adults—and hoping their friendship can survive the change. (Goodreads)
Okay… totally didn’t know what to expect when I started this book and what I received was not what I would have guessed. The story focuses on Rory and Angela, who’ve been best friends since childhood, as they try to figure out what they want to do after college.
At first, Rory’s plan was to go to Australia with her boyfriend to build dragon sanctuaries. But after getting dumped at the gate of her flight, she heads back to her best friend Angela’s apartment to stay in her closet while trying to figure out what to do next.
Angela is not cool with this, especially since she has to lie to her boss, Rory’s mom, about Rory’s whereabouts. Angela has started an internship at a cryptopharmacology lab that Rory’s mom manages but is under a lot of stress to keep up, not make mistakes, and not disappoint Rory’s mom — her boss. The story is about how the two manage to maintain their friendship despite the strain they feel from other areas in their life as they try to figure out what they want to do after college.
I thought the story was okay. It has some humor, which helped make it a fun read, but I didn’t care much for Rory or Angela or their friendship, which is the whole point of the story. What interested me was the world the story is set in. Despite it being a world full of magic, magical creatures (like fairies), and enchanted things (like flying carpets), it’s strongly based on modern society, which helps make the story relatable. So there are cell phones and people text and there is a ride-share service via flying carpets too. There’s a scene where Rory & Angela go to the mall and visit stores like Seers, Fae Jewelers, Taco Spell, Claw Locker, and Aleistercrowley & Witch. The similarity to typical mall stores made me chuckle.
I also like that the story is set near a college campus and characters discuss what they are studying and the classes they are taking — like Guy, who’s studying intramagicks, taking magic apart to see how it works, for his thesis as a Ph.D. student (can’t remember clearly, but I think he’s studying for his doctorate). I just really love that for some reason. It makes me want to visit this world because of how zany it is. I mean, just imagine studying Redeeming Eve: Feminist Reimaginings of Creationist Tales (well, I think that’s a great class we could actually have in the real world) or Unlife Sciences (I wonder what that’s about) or Aeromancy and Its Implications for Meteorology (sounds very technical and I most likely wouldn’t like it, but it sounds so cool!) or Comparative Spellcraft (nothing to say about this except I’d be interested in it).
The lab Angela works at is also really cool. First of all, finding where you need to go as a new intern seems impossible because the directions Angela receives is intended to confuse the person. And then there was a panel that made me think of M.C. Escher’s “Relativity,” so it’s totally possible to walk past someone who is walking on the ceiling or something. And then there’s the work the scientists get up to: caring for and studying mandrakes for medicinal use; trying to find a new food source for zombies. It’s such a weird world and I love it!
My favorite scene was when the characters were stuck in traffic. It’s like a culmination of all things that make this world so zany and appealing to me. People were riding or riding in all sorts of crazy things: regular cars but also a bus made out of a cat or on the back of a three-headed monster or a goose or a house on chicken feet. Smh, lol!
Umm… it’s not a style I typically go for. Actually, I didn’t like it on my first read through. The illustration style coupled with the color scheme didn’t work for me then.
But I reread the book a couple days after first finishing it, and the illustrations grew on me. I started to like them a bit but really loved the variety of cool colors used. It think the colors helped to make this fictional world seem busy, which I think helps because the story seems to be set in a busy city.
Overall: ★★★☆☆ ½
It was fun, and I was left wanting more just to see more of this world and what goes on in it.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I recommend it.