ASTER AND THE ACCIDENTAL MAGIC by Thom Pico and illustrated by Karensac is a fanciful, plucky graphic novel. Aster, the main character, is a likable protagonist whose rambles through adventures ensures readers will pay attention. Laced with magical villains and compatriots, the story keeps Aster occupied despite being stranded in a mountain cottage with only her parents. With Buzz, her new dog, she encounters a trickster, flocks of deadly, migrating birds, a strange but helpful Granny, and much more. The book is accessible, thanks to casual and fun language and references to modern life, but it’s firmly rooted in fantastical elements and folklore themes about nature and the seasons. The illustrations are joyful and just as strong and bold, but also goofy and adorable as the story.
The two narratives included in ASTER AND THE ACCIDENTAL MAGIC are fast-paced, wild, and include several magical elements that are both friendly and dangerous. Aimed at 8-12, nothing is particularly gory or horrific, although danger and uncertain responsibility are a constant underlying theme. Aster must make huge decisions, and she sometimes chooses well, sometimes not, as the title of the first story “Aster Makes Some Poorly Thought-Through Wishes” implies. It’s all in enjoyable fun, however, and Aster’s growth makes this a delightful coming-of-age story. Balancing out the villains are darling but powerful Chestnut Knights and a good-natured mountain who also happens to be the King of Winter. Happily, it’s clear by the end that there will be a follow-up story coming to continue Aster’s adventures.