An imaginative contemporary tale reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm.

SPARROWHAWK

What if Alice’s Wonderland was full of gothic savagery rather than curiosity and whimsy?

The illegitimate, mixed-race child of a white naval captain and a brown, enslaved mother she has never known, Artemisia has been mistreated and neglected by everyone around her except her sister, Caroline. She finds herself unwillingly pulled into another world so unlike her own that she realizes she must become someone—something—else in order to survive and return to her old life. In need of direction, she happens upon Crispin, a furry, antlered creature who is a most unreliable escort. With unknown but clearly ulterior motivations, Crispin volunteers his services to Artemisia. Our young heroine soon learns that she must fight and best beasts and monsters of this new world in order to escape. But will she have to become a monster herself in order to defeat one? Dawson (No Country for Old Gnomes, 2019, etc.) creates a captivating, dark, and violent world of faeries and other magical, mythical creatures. Acceptance, identity, transformation, and the conundrum of human nature are prevalent themes in this story. Readers follow Artemisia as she toes the line between holding on to who she is and becoming that which she detests. The artwork—while occasionally confusing—is vibrant, enhancing the otherworldly feel.

An imaginative contemporary tale reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm. (author’s note) (Graphic fantasy. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68415-395-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

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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 sure winner for any reader with a yen to become permanently terrified. Brilliant.

THROUGH THE WOODS

A print and Web comics artist offers five creep-out chillers (four new) with folk-tale motifs and thoroughly disquieting art.

Well-placed lines of terse, hand-lettered commentary and dialogue reinforce narrative connections but are also as much visual elements as are the impenetrable shadows, grim figures, and stark, crimson highlights in Carroll’s inky pictures. Making expert use of silent sequences, sudden close-ups and other cinematic techniques to crank up the terror, the author opens and closes in a dimly lit bedroom (much like yours), bookending the five primary stories. In “Our Neighbor’s House,” a trio of sisters are taken one by one by a never-seen smiling man. In the next, a bride discovers that “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold”—as are the other pieces (seen in close, icky detail) of her husband’s dismembered but not entirely dead former wife. Two cases of supernatural possession (“His Face All Red” and “My Friend Janna”) follow. The collection is capped by a true screamer in which a teenager’s memories of her mother’s tales of a cellar-dwelling monster with a “sweet, wet voice” segue into a horrific revelation about her pretty new sister-in-law. Lonely houses, dark woods and wolves? Check. Spectral figures with blood-red innards? Check. Writhing tentacles bursting from suddenly inhuman mouths? Check!

A sure winner for any reader with a yen to become permanently terrified. Brilliant. (Graphic horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6595-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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