A dramatically dark fantasy that will leave readers eager for the sequel.

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DARK ONE

A 17-year-old faces his destiny in a divided and distant land.

Paul seemingly has a tenuous grip on reality. He sees visions of an unreal, fantastic land, and Nikka, a blue-tinted hallucination of a girl who claims to be his sister, insists on keeping him company. Living apart from his mother, with whom he has a strained relationship, Paul tries to keep up a normal life with frequent visits to his therapist. When a sword-wielding warrior disrupts a session, Paul is flung into Mirandus, the world of his visions. With a clear flow between panels, the implication of time passing in a montage of wide, epic scenes of Mirandus; brilliant and emotive color schemes; and a cleanly minimal drawing style provide a strong visual aspect to the story. Inexperienced graphic novel readers will easily be able to follow the flow of dialogue, and the clear depiction of speech and narrative bubbles provide further visual literacy cues. While the discussion of good versus evil is a bit heavy-handed despite attempts to subvert the binary, the overarching theme of destiny as depicted by the Narrative adds an intriguing twist. Paul’s relationships with Nikka and other characters are engaging, but the pacing makes them feel rushed. Paul is biracial (Chinese/White); the humans of Mirandus appear mostly White. (This book is available now as a digital edition, with print release currently scheduled for May 2021.)

A dramatically dark fantasy that will leave readers eager for the sequel. (Graphic fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939424-45-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Vault Comics

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in.

ALWAYS HUMAN

In a not-so-distant future where changing one’s physical features is as easy as purchasing nanobot mods, Sunati falls for Austen, a girl who always looks the same.

Since Austen never changes, Sunati admires what she assumes is her bravery and confidence. As Sunati and Austen chat more, Austen bluntly asks Sunati if she only wants to get to know her more because of her medical condition, which prevents her from using mods. As they gradually grow closer, Sunati learns how to interact more respectfully with those who have overactive immune systems as well as to share her feelings more honestly. Austen, in turn, learns to trust Sunati. This beautifully illustrated slice-of-life tale that shows two young women of color getting to know each other and creating a relationship is so warm and charming that readers will hardly notice how much they are learning about how to better interact with folx who are different from themselves and the importance of not making assumptions. The story also successfully weaves in agender, genderfluid, and asexual characters as well as the subjects of parenting and colorism into the natural arc of Sunati and Austen’s developing story. The soft, romantic artwork evokes hazy watercolors. The speech bubbles are predominantly pink and blue, and the varied layout will maintain readers’ interest.

A warm, sweet, lovely tale of a world readers will want to live in. (Graphic romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1110-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Intriguing and accessible, this thought-provoking tale will be new to many.

THE DAUGHTERS OF YS

An ancient Breton folktale finds new life as a graphic novel.

King Gradlon won his wife’s hand by murdering her first husband. Upon her mysterious death, their two daughters, Rozenn and Dahut, are sickened by their father’s debauchery and consumed by grief. Several pages of wordless panels show the girls growing up and growing apart. Rozenn retreats to the countryside, meets Corentin, a “holy hermit,” and falls in love with a fisherman. Dahut commits herself to learning her mother’s magic, including seducing, murdering, and sacrificing a string of young men to protect the city. Dahut’s ultimate betrayal of her sister brings about the deadly denouement. Anderson drew on multiple sources to retell this story of Ys, a “famed city of pleasures” stolen from the sea and doomed to destruction. Overtones of other tales, from the lost land of Lyonesse to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, echo through the pages of this morality tale. Blood and betrayal permeate the plot while natural sounding dialogue and perfect pacing draw readers along smoothly. Rioux’s art adds a suitably Celtic feel, with swirling patterns, medieval costumes, and a red-haired sorceress at its center. While nudity and sexual activity both occur, as do beheadings and drowning, neither the text nor the pictures are particularly explicit. Main characters are white; clothing and textual references indicate contact with Near and Far Eastern nations.

Intriguing and accessible, this thought-provoking tale will be new to many. (source note) (Graphic fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-878-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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