Confident, acid-tongued Cassia Caraway is new to Mason Montgomery Prep School. Popular girl Saffron and her Lady Rangers (think Girl Scouts with attitude) rule the school and monopolize all the brownie baking in town. Poppy Pepper is quiet and kind and just wants to make it through junior high untouched. Eighth grade has just started for all three girls and the next year will be full of family issues, crushes, baking, and criminal activity.

Nutmeg, a planned 15-issue series, begins with Cassia and Poppy befriending each other and concocting a plan to take down Saffron. What starts as a simple brownie sabotage, turns into an underground baking business with the girls selling their all-natural, but hallucinatory brownies called Patty Cakes. Teased as Betty and Veronica meets Breaking Bad, Cassia and Poppy begin supplying the tweens and teens of their suburban town with their brownies, but things do not go as planned.

As we meet back up with Poppy and Cassia in Volume 4, which collects issues 10-12, the two girls have ended their friendship. Poppy has become addicted to the girls’ brownies and Cassia feels betrayed after being lied to. As the girls go their separate ways, we see them struggling to find their footing without each other.

Cassia turns to an unlikely partner and continues the brownie business while Poppy confides in a classmate and starts to find help for her addiction. Meanwhile, the town’s teen detectives are starting to figure out who and what Patty Cakes is. One of the aspects that makes Nutmeg stand out is that it focuses on the so-called criminals while the good guys are the secondary story. Teen detectives Anise and Ginger add a hint of suspense as they start tracking down who is selling the Patty Cakes, especially as people start to get hurt from the brownies.

This is the penultimate volume, so the story feels like it is coming to a conclusion. It does end with Cassia reaching back out to Poppy for one final sabotage on Saffron. While Wright juggles several different storylines well, it can feel rushed at times as they try to fit everything in. In Volume 4, there were several points where scenes switch with no transition which left me feeling like I’d missed a page or two. However, the multiple storylines allow a good insight into the different lives and personalities of tween girls, which is very enjoyable and inclusive. While Poppy and Cassia are the main story, we also get glimpses into Saffron and her family, Saffron’s best friend Marjorie as she finds a new group of friends, and Anise and Ginger while they pick up clues. This is a chaste comic recommended for ages 11 and up, but it does show the girls experiencing crushes on both boys and girls. At times the idea of brownies being special and inducing hallucinations feels ridiculous and unbelievable, but the secondary stories of the girls keeps the story moving and relatable. The diverse, flawed, and real characters are definitely the biggest strength of the comic.

With soft and pastel illustrations, this could easily be overlooked as a cutesy tween-girl comic with no substance, but the comic delves into serious and very real, issues relevant to junior high students. Nutmeg addresses themes of addiction, divorce, death of a parent, morality, and growing pains of being a tween girl. While there is also no clear year setting, I am fairly certain it takes place in the past due to the lack of technology or internet. The girls’ hairstyles and clothes look like they are in the 1950s and they use landline phones. Yet, the language and story are timeless and still pertinent to modern audiences.

Nutmeg is an enjoyable comic that would appeal to young teens. It has the sweet, colorful illustrations to draw in readers, but a story that many kids would find comfort and identity in. Each issue ends with a section called “The Cooling Rack” that packs in a bunch of extras. Volume 4 includes a Poppy paper doll, recipes, a bonus comic, and fan art. This is a planned 15-issue comic, so if you purchase Volume 4, you need to have Volumes 1-3 available as well since this is a continuing story. I recommend purchasing the eBook version since it is the easiest to obtain.

Nutmeg, vol. 4: Late Winter: Coven Cleaner
by James F. Wright
Art by Jackie Crofts and Josh Eckert
ISBN: 9781632293626
Action Lab Comics, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: 11+

  • Lisa

    Past Reviewer

    Lisa Clark has worked at the Kenton County Public Library (KY) since 2005. She’s done a little bit of everything including shelving, working at the reference desk, scheduling, graphic design, editing, grant writing, and more. Currently she works in the children’s department and maintains the collection by weeding and ordering materials. She also leads the adult writers group at the library and writes read alike recommendations for Novelist. With a BA in English Literature from Northern Kentucky University, Lisa has always had a passion for reading. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she likes to run, watch TV shows and movies with her husband, and listen to podcasts.

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