By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)

Another book about a teen nerd who wants to be popular and becomes a bitch the minute she smells a chance at becoming party of the ‘cool clique’? Eh.

Written and illustrated by Tara O’Connor, ‘The Altered History of Willow Sparks’ lured me with the mention of a ‘mysterious book’. And yes, also because of the nicely drawn cover. That’s a mistake I am going to be committing thousands of times over in the future – getting a book because of its cover-art. C’mon, we all judge a book by its cover, maybe mine need an upgrade too (I’ve written a bunch).

Okay, back to ‘The Altered History of Willow Sparks’…. Willow is a teen nerd who has a part-time job at the library, two childhood best-friends and an acne problem. Boys don’t take a second look at her; she isn’t part of the popular clique and is sometimes bullied at school. She has chance to change all that when she stumbles upon a mysterious magical book at the library. Whatever she writes in it can come true!  

Honestly, I was a little skeptical about picking this book, because I didn’t really enjoy Tara’s autobiographical comic ‘Roots’, neither in terms of story nor the art. However, her artwork in this book is different and engaging, the character designs are similar in style with her illustrations for the mystery title ‘Agony House’. So, I definitely did enjoy the artwork, but the plot needed a lot more work. Willow isn’t a very interesting protagonist and becomes unforgivably mean when she discovers magic. Her best-friend Georgia Pratt was a much more measured and likable character. O’Connor explores teen insecurities, friendships and fragility of the human ego.

“The Altered History of Willow Sparks” has the kind of title that sets up a lot of expectations, and Tara O’Connor did have a very interesting concept at hand, but the plot’s full potential is never realized. Nonetheless, it makes for a decent one time read, brownie points to the creator for the art.  

It’s a 3 on 5 from me.  

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