Courtney Crumrin: The Night Things: A Young Witch in the Making

Courtney Crumrin: The Night Things by Ted NaifehCourtney Crumrin (Volume 1): The Night Things by Ted Naifeh (writer and artist) and Warren Wucinich (colorist)

Courtney Crumrin is an instant classic of a children’s tale. There is no doubt that this entire series, over seven volumes long now, is a five-star production, with fantastic art and dark, nightmarish storytelling. This is not a light-hearted fairy tale about a nice little girl. Courtney is decidedly not good-natured, and she’s always got plans that get others in trouble.

First, we meet Butterworm, a creature lurking in the backyard of Professor Crumrin’s house. He gives us an introduction to the professor and the rumors in the neighborhood that surround him. The professor is Courtney’s uncle, and when Courtney comes to stay with him, her adventures begin. She brings along with her a pair of vapid parents who care only about getting ahead and what the neighbors might think.

Courtney is apprehensive and is scared of her uncle, but curiosity gets the better of her, and soon she is exploring her uncle’s house, including sneaking into his private chambers in the off-limits upstairs part of the house. These nighttime adventures give her relief from her daytime torture at school, where she sticks out among her wealthy classmates. On her first day, she is roughed up by a group of students led by a mean girl who punches Courtney in the stomach and takes all her money. But it doesn’t take long for Courtney to find revenge via some night creatures she meets in the woods nearby.

And that’s when this story really picks up: Courtney reads in her uncle’s library about goblins and other creatures of lore and is soon able to manipulate them to her own advantage. She also learns spells that she uses to trick her classmates (after she’s dealt with her first bullies). Soon, she’s in her uncle’s confidence, and she starts learning, on the path to becoming a bit of a young witch. Each chapter shows Courtney dealing with a new problem, and each new difficulty involves some kind of magic, or learning from her uncle or from his books. In the third chapter, we even see Courtney have some adventures in babysitting. What could possibly go wrong? (A changeling, a dark market in goblin town, and other mysterious happenings . . .).

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. The new colors by Warren Wucinich make Ted Naifeh’s art come alive, particularly in Goblin Town, and the writing is perfect. Do not miss out on this series. Courtney Crumrin: The Night Things does not disappoint.

 


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BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Read Brad's series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

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