Book Reviews

Review: Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne

Beetle and the Hollowbones is the latest in my middle grade comic obsession. Full of a muted, but colorful, color palette which reminds you of Halloween a fall, Beetle and the Hollowbones is a story about friendship and speaking up. This queer middle grade graphic novel tackles issues of power, forgiveness, and validation. Keep reading this book review to find out my full thoughts!


In the eerie town of ‘Allows, some people get to be magical sorceresses, while other people have their spirits trapped in the mall for all ghastly eternity.

Then there’s twelve-year-old goblin-witch Beetle, who’s caught in between. She’d rather skip being homeschooled completely and spend time with her best friend, Blob Glost. But the mall is getting boring, and B.G. is cursed to haunt it, tethered there by some unseen force. And now Beetle’s old best friend, Kat, is back in town for a sorcery apprenticeship with her Aunt Hollowbone. Kat is everything Beetle wants to be: beautiful, cool, great at magic, and kind of famous online. Beetle’s quickly being left in the dust.

But Kat’s mentor has set her own vile scheme in motion. If Blob Ghost doesn’t escape the mall soon, their afterlife might be coming to a very sticky end. Now, Beetle has less than a week to rescue her best ghost, encourage Kat to stand up for herself, and confront the magic she’s been avoiding for far too long. And hopefully ride a broom without crashing.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Beetle & The Hollowbones reminded me a bit of Witchy meets Kiki’s Delivery Service. At it’s core it’s a story about friendship and speaking out. We can sometimes have ideas about what constitutes “true power”. In the pursuit of this, we can find ourselves excusing behaviors and seeking external validation. This can be from our family, from authority, or even from society. To speak up requires us to be willing to fight for what is right, even when it has risky consequences.

Power can twist even the best intentions. Sometimes we need our friends to call us out on our behavior. To challenge us to be better than our worst mistakes. And to strengthen not only our belief in ourselves, but our visions of the future. The true source of validation can only come from ourselves. Everything else is too fragile. Did I also mention that this is a queer graphic novel? I love that you can find sources of queer representation for middle grade audiences. Can you tell how much I loved Beetle & The Hollowbone? I hope there’s a thousand more!s

Find Beetle & The Hollowbones on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite queer middle grade?

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