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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An exciting look at girl power gone wrong.

SQUAD

New student Becca can hardly believe her luck when Arianna, Marley, and Amanda, who sit at the top of the Piedmont High School hierarchy, pick her to join their exclusive friend group.

She does her best to remain in their favor, taking cues from Marley and Amanda about how to go along with whatever Arianna requires of her. One night, the three girls arrive just in time to rescue Becca from being assaulted at a party, revealing themselves to be man-eating werewolves who target predatory boys. It doesn’t take much to convince Becca to join their ranks and help them enact vigilante justice. There is a price, however: a hunger that must be satisfied by consuming human flesh during the full moon. But the girls assure Becca that with the four of them looking out for each other the risk of discovery is low. The story highlights important topics, including internalized misogyny and codependent friendships. Becca yearns for the support and closeness that the squad offers, and this fuels her willingness to overlook their offenses—from microaggressions to murder—until things get out of control. The color illustrations are reminiscent of classic comics; the familiar normality of the everyday high school scenes portrayed stands in stark contrast to the werewolves’ meting out of justice. Becca is gay and Asian, Amanda is Black, and Marley and Arianna read as White.

An exciting look at girl power gone wrong. (Graphic paranormal. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-294315-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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