WOW. There is so much I could say about Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen, but to be honest, “wow” is what would sum it up. This children’s graphic novel is a fun, gentle read that also made me feel seen and loved as a person with anxiety. Who knew I would get emotional about sentient vegetables? I certainly did not expect to when I first picked this book up!

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The summary, from Amazon:

An enchanting, farm-fresh debut graphic novel starring an unusual heroine who is braver than she realizes, for middle grade readers looking for a cozy, adventuresome read in the vein of Witch Boy or Be Prepared.

Garlic feels as though she’s always doing something wrong. At least with her friend Carrot by her side and the kindly Witch Agnes encouraging her, Garlic is happy to just tend her garden, where it’s nice and safe.

But when her village of vegetable folk learns that a bloodthirsty vampire has moved into the nearby castle, they all agree that, in spite of her fear and self-doubt, Garlic is the obvious choice to confront him. And with everyone counting on her, Garlic reluctantly agrees to face the mysterious vampire, hoping she has what it takes.

After all, garlic drives away vampires…right?

Buy Garlic and the Vampire here.

Garlic lives among a community of enchanted vegetables who tend gardens alongside Witch Agnes. She is best friends with Carrot. Garlic is a very worry-prone person. When it becomes clear a vampire has moved into the nearby castle, she and her friends are concerned about the potential danger. Of course, one thing vampires can’t stand is garlic, and so Garlic is encouraged to confront the vampire on the village’s behalf.
What charmed me so much about this story is that it was the first time I read a book where a character was not loved solely in spite of her anxiety but also for it. I love that we see how anxiety makes Garlic more empathetic and also a high achiever. Her motivation for confronting the vampire is based on extreme worry for others as well as a need to prove herself to Carrot, who believes in her. We have such a silly, whimsical story that does a great job showing anxiety beyond the surface level and the traits and values it can instill in a person in only a few chapters.
Additionally, as a person with anxiety, I do prefer “gentler” books on the topic, and this was definitely a gentle book. I hate when I read a book about anxiety that tips me into a state of nervousness myself. This book was not remotely triggering for me and while I think any form of representation coming from an author who also experiences symptoms of anxiety is valid and to be celebrated, this particular format really works for me.
And that’s not even all the fantastic stuff about this book. When Garlic does meet the titular vampire, there’s a great lesson about stereotypes, internal biases, and judging a person before you meet them, too.
So if you couldn’t tell, I’m passionate in my love for this book. Garlic and the Vampire was a solid 5 star read for me. Though I got my hands on an eARC, I was happy to add a physical copy to my collection. I have a feeling Garlic will remain a favorite book of mine forever.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Garlic and the VampireGarlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a garlic-loving, witchy vegetarian with anxiety, I couldn’t NOT vibe with this book. A short, fun read.

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Book Club Questions

  1. Why do Garlic’s friends choose her to confront the vampire?
  2. How are Carrot and Garlic good friends to one another?
  3. What is the message or theme of this book?

Interested? Buy Garlic and the Vampire.
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