REVIEW: ‘Zatanna and the House of Secrets’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Zatanna and the House of Secrets

Zatanna and the House of Secrets is published by DC Comics, written by Mathew Cody, art by Yoshi Yoshitani, and letters by Ariana Maher. Zatanna’s day started like any other day for an average 13-year-old. Having breakfast with her goofy magician dad, struggling to navigate the complexities of teenage social interactions, and unknowingly turning some bully’s skin red. But when she comes home to overhear her dad having a mysterious conversation with someone, Zatanna’s life becomes a bit less ordinary.

While the comic release schedule has been sparse these last couple months, the young adult/kids’ graphic novels have been showing up with some solid content. Zatanna and the House of Secrets continues this trend of quality content aimed at younger readers.

Zatanna’s story is split into two pieces. With a bit at the beginning showing her dealing with ordinary life, while the bulk of the story tackles the magical adventure. It is this introduction that is a little off to me. While the events themselves are handled fairly well, they almost feel a little too shoehorned in. As with any story concerning early teenagers, issues of peer pressure and friendship are brought up in this story.  However, the moments happen, and then Zatanna seems to just magically learn from them. I can appreciate why the author wanted to include such themes, I just wish they could’ve been implemented a bit smoother, or let them breathe a little longer to develop naturally.

Once the magic starts flying, Zatanna and the House of Secrets picks up in a surprisingly strong way. With guidance from a magical helper, Zatanna quickly learns there is a lot more to the world than what she thought. While she is able to come to terms with her true magical nature I appreciated how much Cody allows her to struggle with the concepts of magic and how to wield it. These learning periods are often far too brief in such origin stories. Zatanna’s struggle with her newly realized potential feels genuine due to its length and all the more triumphant for it.

Zatanna and the House of Secrets

The rest of the cast in Zatanna and the House of Secrets fill their roles nicely. From Zatanna’s goofy and overprotective dad, to here schoolmates, the personalities here are all presented with a strong measure of believability to them.  Keeping characters grounded is especially important in fantasy stories, as it helps keep things believable to some measure. This is happily true for the cast here, except for the villain. But she’s over the top in every way you would want a magical meany to be.

The artistic presentation of Zatanna and the House of Secrets does a good job of conveying the moments in the book, be they magical or commonplace. Artist Yoshitani forgoes the inked line art most common in graphic novels for a more painted look. This gives the art a smoother presentation as there aren’t black barriers surrounding every element in the story.

I also loved the way the visual art captures Zatanna’s companion Pocus the bunny. Yoshitani does an excellent job allowing this furry little guy to be more emotive than a bunny should be. He provides a comical element, as well as a concerned companion for Zatanna which wouldn’t be successful without the art giving the little guy so much life.

The lettering is the final aspect of Zatanna and the House of Secrets’ visual presentation. While Maher decided to buck the industry norms of capitalizing every letter for clarity, it happily doesn’t hurt the readability of this title. This is largely due to a bit of extra space being added between individual letters allowing better readability.

At the end of the day, Zatanna and the House of Secrets is a fun book that has its protagonist adventure into a brave new world that was closer to her than she knew. While there are a few side moments I would’ve liked to have seen implemented better, all in all, this book makes for a fun read.

Zatanna and the House of Secrets is available now wherever comics are sold.

Zatanna and the House of Secrets
4

TL;DR

At the end of the day, Zatanna and the House of Secrets is a fun book that has its protagonist adventure into a brave new world that was closer to her than she knew. While there are a few side moments I would’ve liked to have seen implemented better, all in all, this book makes for a fun read.