Epic Superhero Origin Story: Zatanna and the House of Secrets

The Stats

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Genre: Middle Grade | Graphic Novel | Superheroes
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics (February 18, 2020)

Thank you to Kidlit Exchange and DC Comics for the ARC of ZATANNA AND THE HOUSE OF SECRETS by Matthew Cody with illustrations by Yoshi Yoshitani. All opinions are my own. 

Zatanna lives a somewhat lonely life with her widowed dad Zatara the Great and pet rabbit Pocus. Except when Zatanna’s house key is stolen at a school dance, she learns her dad is the Caretaker of the House of Secrets – which hides dangerous magic and a door to the Underworld from evil magicians!

Which has now been unlocked by an evil antlered Witch Queen and her demon-looking son Klarion.  Good thing Zatanna has more magic up her sleeve than she realized…


  • Neat sub-plot of an apparent budding friendship with the conflicted co-badguy Klarion.
  • Another strong and relatable sub-plot of Zatanna’s struggles to fit in at school while being true to herself and her real friends.
  • Without posting spoilers… there are a lot of fully-fleshed, all-the-feels subplots in this book, which is impressive for a 160-page graphic novel. 
  • Visually, Yoshitani’s art is stunning: 
Picture of Zatanna vs the Witch Queen in a topsy-turvy magical house


  • I’m not familiar with Zatanna in general (my kids are Team Marvel) so I’m not commenting on how close or far she is from canon.
  • Zatanna is fighting an evil sorceress; some elements might scare more sensitive readers: Cute green monsters grinding bones into soup, etc.
  • The magic spells come by saying words backwards. Given that each word (vs the entire phrase) is backwards + fancy font… someone with dyslexia, a brain injury, etc might have trouble reading it. Or at least, I did.
I think you need your whole left brain to read this common playground comeback turned spell…


  • At least in this volume, Zatanna appears to be mixed-race, but that’s not part of the story at all. 


These DC Comics superhero origin stories are addictive, but Zatanna is the best one I’ve seen yet.


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