Back To Elizabethan Times — ‘The Queen’s Favorite Witch’ Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar

Overview

The Queen’s Favorite Witch isn’t trying to be non-fiction, but those hoping for more historical fiction on the lines of Discovery of Witches might have better luck with the sequel.

Overall
6/10
6/10

Some people can’t pee when somebody’s listening. Daisy has trouble doing spells when someone’s watching, but if she’s going to become the next royal witch, she can’t be waiting for people to leave the room to cast her spells. There’s been a lot of persecution of witches throughout history, but in Benjamin Dickson and Rachael Smith’s graphic novel, The Queen’s Favorite Witch, at least one witch has the backing of the royal family and that’s the royal witch. In a world where magic is real, Queen Elizabeth I can’t afford to not be under witch protection, which is why it’s so important to produce a replacement when the current royal witch dies.

Framed as the first book in an ongoing series, The Queen’s Favorite Witch focuses on the trial process, as Daisy, who doesn’t come from a prominent family, has to fight for an audition. Between class biases and her mom trying to stop her from applying, Daisy doesn’t have it easy, but luckily there are a few people (and one animal) who have her back.

The Queen’s Favorite Witch isn’t trying to be non-fiction, but those hoping for more historical fiction on the lines of Discovery of Witches (where there’s a lot of period research evident) might have better luck with the sequel. The book opens encouragingly enough, with a preface that offers a brief biography on Queen Elizabeth, but that almost feels out of place given how much of the book is fantasy. While the cover promises a story where Daisy and the Queen will be doing a lot of interacting, that isn’t really the case (at least not yet), and while there’s plenty of promise in the premise, it hasn’t been fully capitalized on. Also, Queen Elizabeth has name recognition, but most kids probably aren’t going to realize John Dee was a real person (which is great, but since there’s no biography on him, it doesn’t get to be a teaching moment).

There are moments where it feels like Dickson cuts things short, too. Rather than watch Daisy get bullied multiple times (which isn’t unimportant, but doesn’t necessarily need to be shown every time to get across that its reoccurring), it would’ve been nice to see more of Daisy’s witch training. She’s introduced to someone who can help her with her stage fright, for example, but one page she’s about to start training and the next, she’s already got the problem kicked. There’s no indication of how she worked through the problem, and it’s a major missed opportunity to provide some tangible advice for kids who might be going through a similar thing.

As is due her eminence, Smith sets Queen Elizabeth apart from the other characters by making the line work on her hair and ruff much more detailed. More than her close-ups, Smith’s far away shots are a treat, too, because they offer so much to look at in terms of backgrounds characters who are tiny but all so different and active. Sight gags, like the witch version of catching someone trying to sneak out by casting a spell to make a candle light, are also appreciated, though Smith’s colors make the story feel more modern than a period piece.

The Queen’s Favorite Witch goes on sale November 17th from Papercutz.

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