Maddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch
by Eric Orchard
Top Shelf Comics, 2014
Maddy’s parents have been turned into kangaroo rats. One night, the one responsible sends her horrid spider goblins to steal them away, and all Maddy has left is the friendship of her magic floating toad, Ralph. Then they come back for Ralph. So Maddy sets out to find “the stupid Thimblewitch” and rescue her family.
On the way she makes friends with two cloud cartographers, a grizzly bear named Harry and a raccoon and musician, Silvio. They had always been under the impression that the Thimblewitch was a good witch, a protector of the cloudscape, but of course, good witches don’t kidnap people.
Maddy, listen… The Thimblewitch is powerful. You’re just a little girl.
With the help of a few vampire bats and some moon gas (with helium-like properties,) they take a balloon to Thimble Rock to face the witch and her scarecrow guards. The witch rides the skies in a flying boat like the Baba Yaga. Hers is a tale of of betrayal and greed, and a desire for power that got the better of her.
The journey doesn’t end there. Maddy must yet find her way to the spider goblin castle before she can rescue her parents and Ralph. A great magic was once stolen from the goblins. In fact, the end of this book is just the beginning of a quest to find the lost magic. Maddy will have to go into uncharted territory through the Cloud Vortex in order to truly complete her adventure.
Orchard’s artwork manages to feel both creepy and cute at the same time. The book swims in the atmosphere of dark magic and adventure. I love the cloud whales and the other little bits and pieces that stitch together Orchard’s cloudscape.
The illustrations here are decidedly creepy, but the most evil and foul of this world’s creatures seem to have a decent-enough heart, and shouldn’t leave children of age 8 and higher with any nightmares.
Maddy Kettle, Book One is a fast read, but it leaves you with the feeling that you have experienced something both great and magical, felt the shadow of a monstrous cloud passing in the night. Book Two is in progress, and I can’t wait! In the meantime, check out Orchard’s graphic novel Bera, The One-Headed Troll for more of his child-friendly dark fantasy!