Witchlight, which is published by Random House Graphic, is written and illustrated by Jessi Zabarsky and colored by Geov Chouteau. The young adult graphic novel follows Sanja and Lelek, an uncanny duo who embarks on an adventure of a lifetime. Sanja, a skilled swordswoman, is kidnapped by Lelek, a witch. Lelek demands Sanja to teach her how to sword fight but Sanja only agrees if Lelek doesn’t use her powers to harm anyone. The two travel together to other villages while forming a bond that neither of them expected. Their travels will teach them about family, friendships, falling in love, and finding ways to deal with the trauma that haunts them.
I didn’t have any major expectations about Witchlight since I didn’t know much about the graphic novel other than the premise. However, I was blown away by the bond that Sanja and Lelek form throughout the story. Since both Sanja and Lelek come from two completely different worlds, it would be hard to imagine the two becoming friends. However, Zabarsky does an incredible job of developing their friendship without it feeling completely rushed. It took a lot for both characters to trust one another, but by going through several experiences together, the two of them to ease into a friendship. By the end of the book, I was left wanting more of these two characters and ways for their bond to grow even more.
I was surprised by the use of black and white whenever a flashback scene was included. It makes sense that a flashback would be in black and white to distinguish itself from the real-time events, but it had a much bigger effect. With the subject of the flashback having a darker tone, the use of black and white added to the already established tone. It elevated the impact of the scene in a way that adding color would’ve taken away. I was also able to empathize more with the situation since it was much more emotional.
Zabarsky also did an incredible job in regards to the world-building in Witchlight. Everything from geographical locations, characters, and their social status were developed really well. I was even more surprised by the origins of witches and the many ways that magic could be used. It shows the amount of love and dedication that went into this graphic novel. I would have loved for more of this world to have been revealed, but I imagine that it would’ve got in the way of the story that was being told.
The artwork in Witchlight fits perfectly with the story that was being told. Since the story would most likely fall under the fantasy genre, there were several elements that surely reflected on this. For instance, the way Sanja and Lelek were dressed would easily fit in any medieval fantasy story. The colors added to the more fantastical traits of the story while also making the artwork aesthetically pleasing to look at.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Witchlight. I only wish that there were more stories about Sanja and Lelek that I could read. It was great to see how their bond developed throughout the story. The bond made me care more about them and root for them to reach their main objective. If there was ever a time that needed these kinds of stories that deal with themes of friendship and family, it’s now. Witchlight is a graphic novel that I definitely recommend.
Witchlight will be available for purchase on April 14th, 2020 wherever books are sold.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Witchlight. Zabarsky also did an incredible job in regards to the world-building and the artwork fits perfectly with the story. I only wish that there were more stories about Sanja and Lelek that I could read.