Book Review – Beetle and the Hollowbones

Beetle & the Hollowbones
by Aliza Layne
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020)

At a Glance

Category/Genre(s):

Middle grade fantasy graphic novel

Age Range:

8-12

From the Publisher:

“In the eerie town of ‘Allows, some people get to be magical sorceresses, while other people have their spirits trapped in the mall for all ghastly eternity.

“Then there’s twelve-year-old goblin-witch Beetle, who’s caught in between. She’d rather skip being homeschooled completely and spend time with her best friend, Blob [Ghost]. But the mall is getting boring, and B.G. is cursed to haunt it, tethered there by some unseen force. And now Beetle’s old best friend, Kat, is back in town for a sorcery apprenticeship with her Aunt Hollowbone. Kat is everything Beetle wants to be: beautiful, cool, great at magic, and kind of famous online. Beetle’s quickly being left in the dust.

“But Kat’s mentor has set her own vile scheme in motion. If Blob Ghost doesn’t escape the mall soon, their afterlife might be coming to a very sticky end. Now, Beetle has less than a week to rescue her best ghost, encourage Kat to stand up for herself, and confront the magic she’s been avoiding for far too long. And hopefully ride a broom without crashing.” (source)

Strengths:

  • Vibrant illustrations
  • Diverse, relatable characters
  • high, but personal, stakes

Full Review

Let me start off by saying that the I think the cover of this book is beautiful. I was browsing at the library, and the vibrant purples and oranges and pinks drew my eye right to it. I was so excited to see that the interiors were just as beautifully rendered. I loved the style right away.

I liked Beetle, the goblin-witch main character, right off the bat. She was spunky and funny and relatable. I enjoyed her relationship with her grandmother and how she was torn between learning her family’s goblin magic and the more flashy sorcerer’s school magic. I think that this is something that many kids can relate to–the idea of tradition vs modern. Often in discovering one’s own path, the traditional weaves in with the modern to create something new and wonderful.

I also loved the diversity of the characters. The budding romance between Beetle and Kat is sweet and age appropriate. And Blob Ghost uses they/them pronouns throughout. Both Kat and Blob Ghost also had well rounded arcs. All the characters felt real and fleshed out.

I also thought that the stakes were high, yet very personal. Beetle must stop Kat’s Aunt Hollowbone from tearing down the mall and taking over the town. But first and foremost it is about saving her friend, Blob Ghost, who is bound to the mall and cannot leave. It was more than just a hero saving the town/world. And I liked that.

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a fun, lightly spooky read going into the Halloween season, definitely pick this up!


Shop the book above and support me and local Indies:
Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne

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