Coming from someone who has always believed Zatanna deserves more attention than she gets, Zatanna and the House of Secrets by Matthew Cody and Yoshi Yoshitani is the perfect way to introduce her to young readers.
The story starts with Zatanna waking up like any other morning of her life. It’s all normal to her—the old, creaky house, her stage magician father, his pet rabbit who likes to eat at the table with them. Nothing weird here!
As far as Zatanna is concerned, her biggest challenge is facing the social changes of entering middle school where it seems like everything she does turns out wrong, and her best friend has grown up without her. After an unfortunate run-in with a certain witch boy, her house awakens to reveal all its magical secrets and help her rescue her father from an evil witch queen.
The art of this book struck me from the very first page. It is bright, colorful, and magical. Yoshi Yoshitani isn’t afraid to explore the panels and design characters that stand out in all the best ways. Zatanna has a unique design that is just iconic enough to remember her by, and just new enough to make her fresh and engaging for the next generation of fans. Klarion is such a freaky mix of adorable and gremlin that I still can’t decide if I should pinch his cheeks and baby talk him or run for my life.
While Matthew Cody’s writing is super (as always) in both his characterization and meaningful storytelling, the art tells the story here just as much as anything else. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Ariana Maher who had to letter all that backwards speak. The lettering is beautiful!
While Zatanna’s adventure is full of color and creativity, the stakes are real and they are huge. She gets upset. She gets scared. Yet, when even I was getting worried for her father’s well-being, she pushed through bravely anyway. The story addresses growing up, fighting for your family, and even dealing with fear and loss in such a beautiful and relatable way that there’s no other word for it besides, magical.