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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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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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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