BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Graphic Novel Review: Hex Vet: Witches In Training


Title: Hex Vet: Witches In Training

Publisher: Kaboom!/Boom! Studios

Writer/Illustrator: Sam Davies

Letterer: Mike Fiorentino

Designer: Kara Leopard

Editor: Whitney Leopard

Welcome to Willows Whisper Veterinary Practice, where Dr. Cornelia Talon leads Nurse Ariel Chantsworth and trainees Clarion Wellspring and Annette Artifice as they treat every magical animal who comes through the door, from giant rats to phoenixes to three-eyed cats. Unfortunately, Dr. Talon has to leave to tend a manticore birth -- meaning Clarion and Annette are on their own in dealing with the bugbear in the basement, the impatient patients in the waiting room, and ... oh ... the possessed rabbit ....

I am always on the look-out for Pagan- and polytheist-friendly graphic novels, especially those from outside the mainstream. I've read plenty of Zatanna and Dr. Strange comics, but, while those characters are fun, they are bound by the established rules of their fictional universes. Independent creators have the freedom to create any kind of magical story featuring any sort of magical character that they want. As such, I was very happy when I found Hex Vet.

This is a sweet, simple story filled with interesting characters. Clarion is eager and enthusiastic, often jumping into a situation without proper preparation; that's a problem when she has to deal with the bugbear. Annette is standoffish and too serious; she can hear the whispers behind her back about her family and their legacy of dark magic. Nurse Chantsworth is self-important and egotistical, preferring to bully the trainees rather then mentor them. Dr. Talon, on the other hand, is compassionate and gentle, while hinting at a dark past of her own.

Anyone can relate to these characters. They may be witches and they may be magical, but they face many of the same problems as mundane people. Clarion wants to do her job, but she doesn't want to hurt the bugbear. Annette wants to prove herself, but only knows how to respond to all those whispers with angry growls and glares; she can't articulate her feelings. Nurse Chantsworth, who should be supporting the trainees, instead seems to consider them useless hangers-on; maybe even rivals. Hopefully, that will change if/when more volumes are released. (Curiously, Chantsworth's gender is unclear: square jaw, blunt fingers, long hair, and full witch's robes. No pronouns are used for Chantsworth, so I am not sure if the character is male, female, or genderqueer.) 

I also love the fact that all is not as it appears to be, particularly where the animals are concerned. The bugbear starts out as frightening, but is soon revealed to be an ally -- and a cuddly one, at that. The adorable rabbit, on the other hand, is the real threat. This is an engaging way to teach an important lesson about judging others by appearance and expectations.

Hex Vet is a great little graphic novel. While it is aimed at a younger audience, older readers will enjoy it, too. Recommended to fans of the Delilah Dirk series, the Hilda series, The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, and Zita the Spacegirl.  

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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