Witches of Brooklyn: What the Hex?! by Sophie Escabasse, 240 pp, RL 4


Witches of Brooklyn: What the Hex?! 
Review Copy from RH Graphic
My only complaint about Witches of Brooklyn was that it left me wanting more. Now, a year and a week later, the next book in the series has arrived and is even more satisfying than the first, if that is possible. While Escabasse sets her story in the real world, she also builds a world that warm and inviting, despite the snowy weather, icy statues and teenage muggers. Where the first book in this trilogy, which had its share of sadness as Effie, who lost her mother, came to live with her aunts, Selimene and Carlota, was about introducing Effie to her powers and beginning her magical education, What the Hex?! finds Effie being introduced into her community. Effie is amazed at the diversity of the witches in Brooklyn, noting, "They’re all so different . . . each one has their own area of expertise." Teachers, librarians, midwives, psychologists, DJs, social workers, computer programmers, scientists, all have one thing in common – "They’re all people taking care of people . . . they’re all very much involved in their communities and always alert to what is happening."
Escabasse marvelously balances (and mirrors) a challenge to the community and a personal challenge in Effie’s life in What the Hex?!. A "stormy corner" on Sixth Avenue seems to be causing all sorts of accidents and calls for investigating, while a new kid at school threatens Effie’s friendship with Berrit and Oliver. With the help of the wise Carlota and a stellar new character (no spoilers) Aunt Ma, Effie learns that words are powerful magic and (in one of the best analogies I have very heard) that, "Talking about a problem is like opening a window in a stinky room."
As with the first book, Escabasse’s crisp, detail-rich illustration style is entirely engrossing and her skill at capturing emotions in facial expressions adds depth to her story. I always love a book that mentions other works of art and literature, giving readers more to explore, and Escabasse does not disappoint. Effie and classmates are reading the unforgettable Newbery winner, The War That Saved My Life. And, a sculpture is described as being influenced by Niki de Saint Phalle. De Saint Phalle was an amazing French-American artist, sculptor, author, and architect and I had the honor of living just up the road from one of her sculpture parks.

September 7, 2021 at 01:01PM Tanya