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Electrigirl – Jo Cotterill and Cathy Brett. Reviewed by Pheebs (14)

Superpowers are often talked about in a ‘what would you do’ situation. But what if you really were to have superpowers?

Electrigirl is the story of a young girl named Holly, and the resulting exploration of her new-found electrical powers after being struck by lightning. At first daunted by her task and worried by the danger of losing control, she is coached by her brother to gradually accept the power’s implications and learn to use it for benevolent causes. Added to this, Jo Cotterill’s and Cathy Brett’s book explores the fluctuation of friendship and feelings in a tender and understanding fashion.

Many of the conventions of superhero writing are obeyed: including a superb first villain being introduced and quickly established as Holly’s arch nemesis, and a team of sidekicks set up to help fight crime. Marvel fans will be happy.

Cathy Brett illustrates the story in the style of a comic strip, so that the chapters are punctuated with eye-catching images. The style of drawing is strikingly bold, suiting the subject magnificently with snappy, fast-paced screenshots.

Jo Cotterill’s narrative describes how lives can change and has key themes of friendship, secrets, and emotions. Holly has trouble trying to manage her relationships with both her friends and family, and this is empathically developed and sensitively resolved, providing a wonderful account of the supernatural woven into domestic everyday life. As a symbol of this supernatural theme in the story, Holly develops a fernlike pattern on her skin when using her powers; which I think is a wonderful “trademark” for the superheroine!

The style of illustration might not be for everyone, and the character of Holly’s mum can be quite annoying; but then she’s meant to be! But if you like a bit of fantasy and a great plotline, this is the book to read. And your favourite characters are illustrated too: what more could you want?!


 This review was first published on the Chipping Norton Literary Festival website. Pheebs and Mango Bubbles Boy are reporting from this year’s events. Jo Cotterill and Cathy Brett are appearing at the festival!

Let us know what you think! Do you have any book recommendations?

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