ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
is published by Random House Graphic, is written by Nathan Page, and illustrated by Drew Shannon. What begins with a well earned day off quickly leads to a mystery when the Montague twins witness a freak storm centered around an old lighthouse. Confronted by what appears to be a witch, the twins, and their step-sister Charlie, soon discover there is a lot of magic in their sleepy town of Port Howl. And it might just get them all in a lot of trouble.

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand rides the line between several different things. At first glance, it feels like a Hardy Boys story. As we are introduced to Pete and Al Montague and their step-sister Charlie we get the immediate impression of small-town kids looking for some adventure.

After having recovered a prominent member of the town’s dog, the three are off to spend their well-earned reward. But the appearance of a witch reveals the existence of a whole lot more to their town’s apparent quiet exterior.

After a local girl goes missing and a rash of unexplained incidents occurs, the situation quickly becomes a lot more than a simple who done it. As conspiracies to murder and long cold police cases are brought to light, the content quickly matured beyond what I expected. While the violence directly depicted is kept to a minimum, I was thoroughly surprised by the amount of harsh langue that was present in a book meant for anyone 12-years-old and up.

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand

It wasn’t just the nature of the content that surprised me with The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand, but how long-winded the book could be at times. As the story moves beyond simple kids solving mysteries as aspects of the magical world are revealed. But this is done in a classroom lecture-style format that goes on much too long. As more elements come into the story, such as the history of the town, as well as some of its members, every explanation grinds the story to a halt. Page’s thoroughness keeps everything crystal clear but at much too high a cost. Instead of intrigue when I saw an answer coming I came to dread the questions. And there are quite a few questions.

When The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand does move past its world-building and lets the story take over it provides a fun tale. The characters are colorful, and the moments of adventure capture a suitable energy to make them engaging. They just come much too infrequently.

The overall story, at its core, is entertaining and creative.  Even some plot points that I was able to guess the general nature of often presented small twists that surprised me. These qualities just are not enough to keep the narrative as a whole afloat.

While the story has its ups and downs, the visual style of The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand is consistent. The art by Shannon captures a 1970s small port aesthetic perfectly. And while this quaint environment is presented skillfully for a light mystery, it adds to the jarring nature of the content I feel. The art gives the impression of a classic Archie comic. Of teens and malt shops. The murder and sorcery are granted a bit more of a surprise when paired with its visual surroundings. Which, to be fair, isn’t a fundamentally a bad thing.

When all is said and done, The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand doesn’t deliver enough bang for its page count. It feels bloated with world-building and character backgrounds. It would’ve been much better if some of these moments been trimmed, if not completely omitted. As it stands, this story has flashes of brilliance that are mired down by long-winded exposition.

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand is currently scheduled for release on July 14th.

The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand
2.5

TL:DR

When all is said and done, The Montague Twins: The Witch’s Hand doesn’t deliver enough bang for its page count. It feels bloated with world-building and character backgrounds. It would’ve been much better if some of these moments been trimmed, if not completely omitted. As it stands, this story has flashes of brilliance that are mired down by long-winded exposition.