Moonstruck Volum 1: Magic To Brew
by Grace Ellis and Shae BeagleBarista Julie is in love. However, she is living in a world where magical creatures exist side by side with ordinary humans, and she is herself a werewolf who tries to keep a low profile and avoid unwanted attention. But things start to go awry when Julie and her new love Selena go on a date and her best friend Chet tags along. A malicious magician casts a spell that leaves Chet horribly changed.
As Julie and friends try to work out how to find the magician and make him fix Chet, life in the strange town of Blitheton is gradually revealed. It's a place inhabited by dozens of different types of mythical creatures, incorporating human-animal hybrids, the undead, magic users, and a host of other fantasy beings both common and uncommon. The story centres on a sweet romance and the challenges of friendship, and in some ways it's quite domestic. The focus on ordinary life and relationships means the pace is somewhat slow moving, but it is humorous and endearing.
Julie loves a certain comic book, which is drawn as a story within a story, including Julie's wry commentary as she reads along. Quirky advice columns from various Blitheton characters sit between the chapters, adding to the sense of irreverence.
The mystery isn't particularly complex, and the stakes aren't terribly high. However, what makes Moonstruck compelling is the believable characterisations and friendships of the central characters. Chet is funny, cute, and prone to talking too much, a great foil for Julie's reserved shyness. Their friend Cass the seer is often confused and a little troubled. Selena is brave and a little bit reckless. Meanwhile, tempers fray in a local band of dubious talents as their guitarist decides to leave, and they draw Julie into their drama when she has more pressing concerns to deal with.
Shae Beagle's artwork is colourful and chunky, with characters drawn in a distinctive style that makes for fat legs tapering to tiny pointed feet. When characters get emotional they're often drawn in even more exaggerated ways. It's a style that will appeal to younger readers, which fits the story's all ages suitability. Cute, sweet, and extremely lighthearted and cosy, Moonstruck is a heartwarming story about accepting otherness. Adorable.
21st September 2018
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: own copy