A fast-paced genre mashup sure to find a cult following.

THE WITCH OWL PARLIAMENT

From the Clockwork Curandera series , Vol. 1

Mix Fullmetal Alchemist with steampunk in a fictionalized version of 19th-century Mexico, and you have Bowles and Raúl the Third’s new graphic series.

It’s 1865, and Cristina Franco is an apprentice curandera, or healer. The witch owls lay siege to the East Laredo train depot in the Republic of Santander, where she awaits her brother Enrique’s return, and despite the best efforts of her green magic, she is fatally wounded. All is not lost, however, as Enrique has been studying alchemy and engineering while he was away at university. He uses his new skills to bring Cristina back and creates mechanical limbs for her. Yet Cristina struggles with this blasphemy, knowing it will result in her expulsion from her curandera community just as the witch owls are rising to terrorize Santander. The pace is fast and clipped, with little time for worldbuilding; even brief flashback scenes can cause more confusion than clarity. Nevertheless, the combination of steampunk and cyberpunk genres in such a novel setting will appeal to many. Readers lacking a familiarity with the mestizo and Indigenous cultures of Mexico may be inspired to learn more in order to fully appreciate this work. Illustrated in black, red, and, occasionally, green ink on a background that mimics the sepia tones of old paper, the dramatic and expressive artwork and creative use of panels greatly enhance the reading experience.

A fast-paced genre mashup sure to find a cult following. (maps, author's note, sketches) (Graphic fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62014-592-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot.

ON A SUNBEAM

In this graphic novel/space adventure, a young woman discovers her place in a vast universe.

After graduating from an all-girls boarding school, Mia, a light-skinned, black-haired girl, joins a reconstruction crew traveling through space to restore crumbling buildings with ancient and forgotten histories. She carries with her memories of Grace, the girl she fell in love with and lost during her freshman year of school. As Mia develops close bonds with her teammates, she learns they each have mysterious and complicated pasts of their own. Despite their differences, the strength of their love holds them together on a dangerous journey to the farthest reaches of space. A deep color palette of blues and purples with bursts of warm shades captures the setting. Walden’s (Spinning, 2017, etc.) diverse cast of queer characters includes Char, a black woman who co-captains the reconstruction crew with her white wife, Alma; Mia’s past love Grace (a black woman); and Elliot, a white nonbinary person who communicates nonverbally. While Mia’s journey is central, every character experiences a moment of growth over the course of the narrative. The timeline alternates between Mia’s memories depicting the progression of her relationship with Grace and the present. At times both gently romantic and heartbreaking, the story ultimately celebrates love and the importance of chosen family.

An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot. (Science-fiction graphic novel. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17813-8

Page Count: 546

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A tsunami of emotions—sharp and heavy.

ARE YOU LISTENING?

Two women on the run from their pasts travel across west Texas.

Eighteen-year-old Bea runs away from home without a plan except escaping—until she crosses paths with 27-year-old Lou at a gas station on the way out of town. They share the same need to get away from all the people they know. Together, they embark on a road trip to Lou’s great-aunt’s house in San Angelo and then to return a lost cat to a mysterious town called West. However, the dark and foreboding Office of Road Inquiry pursues them in search of the cat in their possession. Walden (On a Sunbeam, 2018, etc.) crafts a story rich in metaphor about two gay women on a journey through trauma and grief. The unpredictable, shifting landscape in which lakes appear and roads change course encapsulates the treacherous and nonlinear path of healing. Complex panel layouts in dark tones and moody reds often bleed together, and stretches of silent art fit the heaviness of the tone. Background characters whose eyes are hidden add to the rising sense of anxiety throughout the story. In the midst of this intense atmosphere, Lou and Bea develop a moving bond and deep trust that allow Bea to open up to Lou. The resolution offers hope that both characters will continue to heal. Characters appear to be white.

A tsunami of emotions—sharp and heavy. (Graphic novel. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20756-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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