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The Queen's favorite Witch #1: The Wheel of fortune
Writer: Benjamin Dickson
Artist: Rachael Smith
Papercutz, $14.99, 112pp
Published: October 26 2021

Thank you Netgalley for providing me a digital ARC.

This is the first book in a new YA graphic novel series that follows Daisy Sparrow, a twelve-year-old witch who sells potions, cures and charms with her mom. She knows the craft but often gets performance anxiety if others are watching. She suffers from boredom and wants to be something more than just a potion maker for the peasants in her small village.

This opening story is set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The Queen’s royal witch has died and Daisy sees a poster looking for the next witch who will protect the Queen. Daisy’s mother forbids her from trying out for the position. This doesn’t stop her and she goes anyway, but she isn’t from a “good family”, so is blocked from auditioning. She sleeps outside the palace and, in the morning, a soldier offers her a job as a palace maid, thus getting her inside where, in her meager room, she makes the acquaintance of a talking rat named Nathaniel.

She also meets Doctor John Dee, a heretic and advisor to Elizabeth, who believes that there is a demonic plan in place against the queen, and he gives Daisy permission to join the tryouts, thinking she is a wildcard who might make all the difference.

The other girls in the group bully her because they only see her as a maid. When Daisy tells this to Nathaniel, he offers to be her familiar. The rat introduces her to a human friend of his, Valentyne, who helps her train, and Daisy's magic starts to improve. Of course, the other girls don’t like this so plot against her. When Daisy falls for one of their wicked pranks, not only is she banned from the tryouts, she is also banished from the castle. Before she has to leave, however, the ghost of Elizabeth's father arrives and demands his throne back.

When the new royal witch fails to perform her duties and drive him out, Daisy steps in to help. Unfortunately, by doing this, she makes an enemy who is now out for revenge, setting up the story for the second book in the series.

I enjoyed the fact that, before the story starts, the reader gets some quick background on Queen Elizabeth I. It really helped envision the setting of the story, which is key to the target audience. I also think the art was well done and conveyed the storyline well for a YA novel.

I wasn't as fond of Daisy in the beginning. I found her a whiny, slightly thoughtless character until we arrive at the underlining message she finally learns as she begins to evolve into a mature young lady and intuitive witch. Quit trying to be something you're not; just be yourself.

Overall, I enjoyed this story for being a YA read, though would like to see some of the characters have a little more substance and possible back story in future instalments. I look forward to the next volume and would happily introduce my older grandchildren to it. ~~ Dee Astell

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