Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things was the witty, creepy, and strangely sweet story of a young misfit transplanted into a world of magic. In Coven of Mystics, Naifeh really brings his grumpy heroine to life. Magic provides Courtney with an escape from the mundane world she hates, and she’s not shy about meddling with danger or trying out spells on unsuspecting classmates. She soon meets her match, however, in the form of Miss Crisp. The stern teacher not only makes Courtney do some homework herself, she also opens her eyes to the perils of turning one’s back on the world. Readers will be totally engrossed in Courtney’s world, where the woods are full of creatures both gentle and nightmarish. Coven of Mystics is full of delights: a midnight meeting where the town’s cats choose their new leader, the Council of Elders and their eerie Hall of Wonders, and a beautiful witch suffering from a terrible curse. This final mystery draws both Courtney and Uncle Aloysius out of their isolation when the gentle Skarrow, a night thing and Courtney’s first real friend, is wrongly accused of harming the mistress he loved. While she’s reckless, moody, and sometimes bratty, Naifeh has also endowed Courtney with a keen mind and a strong sense of justice. In other words, he’s made her into a real teen. His beautiful, atmospheric artwork provides a good helping of creepiness to go with his emotionally complex story. Oni Press has rated the series for ages 7 and up, but I consider it an important series for teens; younger children may find the horror too disturbing, and the book’s messages will certainly have more meaning for readers 12 and up.