Published: 31 October 2017
Publisher: Oni Press
Category: Graphic Novel/Fantasy/Middle Grade/LGBT+
From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever Aftercomes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.
After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.
Rating: 4 Stars
As a lover of dragons, tea, and graphic novels, The Tea Dragon Society caught my eye with a charming cover and an interesting premise.
Greta, our main character, is being taught to be a blacksmith by her mother. She loves to do this, realizing how important and beautiful the objects her mother makes are, even if they’re not totally useful. Swords, for example, are not in much use anymore but they’re still an important project for a blacksmith and the process by which they are made must be passed down before it is forgotten.
One day Greta stumbles across a lost tea dragon. When returning it to its family, Greta is introduced to dragon tea and the caretakers of the dragons. Hesekial, the bonded owner of Jasmine the lost tea dragon, becomes a new mentor to Greta as she expresses interest in finding out more about the dragons and the tea they produce. Through him, she meets a diverse cast of characters, from Hesekial and his partner Erik to Minette, a ward of the Tea Dragon Society on whom it looks like Greta has a crush.
I loved seeing all the people play out on the page and how it’s all fantastical, from the dragons to the creature that is Hesekial, but it’s also ordinary. Nothing is a big deal, like Erik and his wheelchair, the different races that make up Greta’s hometown. It’s a loving environment that makes everyone comfortable.
The art is a display of Katie O’Neill’s talent. The light colors evoke happiness and the style of her characters, both humanoid and not, has a soft edge that doesn’t fail to make me smile.
What makes me rate this four stars instead of five is that the story itself felt cut short, like something was missing. For being called The Tea Dragon Society, we sure don’t hear too many details about this amazing creatures. Most of the stuff I did find out, like the different types, what tea they make, etc., was learned in an appendix to the book. Not having that incorporated organically into the story made me feel like this was a sampler rather than a full-on completed work. At this time it doesn’t look like there is more to Greta’s story than what’s on the page, not even in the web comic that this started out as. I hope there will be because this is a rich world full of magical creatures and fulfilling relationships that could be told.
This picture by Katie O’Neill, available to purchase a print HERE, shows some of the common types of tea dragons. If I were to pick one to raise myself, it would be the Hibiscus Tea Dragon, the pink one in the lower right hand corner. They’re highly sociable and have an easy going nature. This baby reminds me of Chansey, the Pokemon that often serves as a nurse in the anime. They’re all loveable, but there’s something extra sweet about the Hibiscus dragon to me.
Do you think you’d be able to raise a tea dragon? It’s a lot of work, but apparently well worth the effort. For fans of tender graphic novels and a good book for an afternoon, The Tea Dragon Society is a pleasant book for quite a range of audiences.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.