“The Fire of Life rose from its slumber to dispel the encompassing darkness, pouring in through beautiful rays of light that streaked across the land. All flora and fauna were roused to life and tossed off the blanket of silence shrouding their surroundings. It was the dawn of a new cycle, a time for rebirth.”
Get ready to get transported to your Highschool English class, because Aradia The Witch has more subtext than The Great Gatsby with a splash more quality than a Wattpad fanfiction. Studio Ghibli meets Brother’s Grimm in this cutesy fantasy turned magical horror.
Representation was a big focus for this story because it delved into topics like witchcraft and stolen cultures. Being Mexican myself, I focused on a Latin-inspired setting, and included Spanish as a secondary dialect that is the first language of the characters of the story. Aradia herself is of mixed decent (simulating my experience as a Mexican American), which keeps the story English-centric. It also focuses on a lesbian love story, and gender-neutral creatures (her familiars).
The themes of this story are self-discovery, “coming of age”, heritage and family duties/expectations, and colonization/racism. Every page really is jam-packed with subtext that not only develops these themes but tells multiple stories at once. I like to think of the experience as a whirlpool, slow to pull you in at the beginning but before you know it you’re quickly in the center of a whole lot going on.
Of course, it’d be silly not to mention the art included in the book. I wanted to give the overall book a theme of being a grimoire (magic notebook). The art and descriptions are meant to seem like pages from Aradia’s grimoire, a look at the creatures and plants she’s seeing, plus text from Aradia’s perspective that might allude to something more. This not only helps the reader feel more connected to Aradia, but provides a context to the magical things mentioned in the book without stopping to outright spell things out.
The book is available on Amazon. Here is one of my favorite excerpts from the book:
“Imesis, Ghedona, I gift you these flowers. Gather purifying winds to destroy these barriers. Grant me freedom and open my path.” Aradia took a deep breath. “Sui, now!”
Sui’s sharp ears caught Aradia’s voice on the wind. Taking the signal, Sui turned the sack upside-down and let the starflower petals rain down. The spiraling shower of white petals gathered speed and wind in their descent until they nearly became a tornado. Just before touching down, the airstream went horizontal to the ground and followed the path of flower petals Aradia had laid along the ground. The maze became a wind tunnel.
Sensing the growing hazardous conditions, Sui swiftly returned to Aradia who pulled them in close to her chest. The airstream continued through the paths, partially tearing at the maze, until it reached Aradia’s dead end and ran smack into the wall. Aradia turned toward the wall and closed her eyes to shield her and Sui from the sharp wind current. When the wind’s loud howls died down, Aradia opened her eyes to see a large hole in the maze’s wall, and the wall behind that, and a third wall, leading straight to the heart of the maze.
(If you would like to see/hear more excerpts, I read one from each chapter for my TikTok countdown to publication.)