The story of Nova and Tam, two childhood friends, facing feelings from the past, a demon in the woods, and a mysterious cult, Mooncakes is a fascinating tale of family, magic, danger, and more.
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Published: 15 October 2019
Publisher: Lion Forge
Genre(s): Graphic Novel/Fantasy/LGBTQ+/Young Adult
A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.
Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.
One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.
Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
Representation: Chinese-American MCs (both queer), MC who is hard-of-hearing, MC who is non-binary, plus size SC, Jewish SC
Scary imagery, misgendering of MC (corrected ASAP)
- The first glance at the Employees Only room at Black Cat Bookseller & Cafe. It’s crammed with books (both stationary and flying), witchy imagery, and the linework is very good. It’s homey and attractive and I remain sore that I can’t visit it myself.
- Seriously, the detail Wendy included in the various scenes. When Nova is talking to her friend Tatyana in the Cafe, not only can you see the tea bag in the teapot, but the covers of the books in the foreground are tributes to other Young Adult books such as The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan.
- Nova’s Nanas. Not only do they run a bookstore/cafe that caters to witchcraft, but they’re super supportive in general and of Nova and Tam specifically. They’re also funny when they needle Nova and Tam about their budding relationship and badass when they take on a possessed horse.
- Tatyana, a friend of Nova who knows about magic but is a scientist so is sometimes O_O about the things that pop up in relation to magic. My favorite reaction was when she found out that Tam was the white wolf she’d seen in the woods and she tried to reconcile that werewolves were a thing in her brain.
- The variety of creatures at Witchwood State Park. They’re so darling, it made even homebody me want to go out for a hike in hopes of meeting them. 🙂
- The conveyance of information between the Nanas and the creatures of the forest with imagery, not words. It was easy enough to understand not only what each party meant, but how they felt about the situation.
- Tam’s fangs appearing in a panel here or there. It was so cute. ❤
- Cousin Terry. Coo… lol
- The mid-autumn festival/Sukkot celebration. From the feast to the family reunion (living & deceased)…there was so much feeling of family, both the good and the sometimes not-so-good.
- The frank discussion and inclusion of Nova’s hearing aids.
- While I enjoyed the scenes in Witchwood State Park, I thought that there were parts that were overcrowded with magical creatures that didn’t mesh well. They felt like they were placed there rather than they were meant to be there, conveying movement or what-have-you.
- I was confused by an abrupt scene end concerning Tam & Nova doing a soul connection sort of thing. Going by the script, it felt like there was a path it story was following, but then it ended and was insinuated to be left off for a later time. It didn’t make sense to me in the context of the moment.
- I don’t think there was any clarity regarding the origin of werewolves (bite, hereditary, etc.) and that didn’t sit quite right with me. Tam’s family history is complicated say the least and gives no answers. Their mother was not a werewolf & doesn’t understand the “wolf thing.” Their stepfather is also not a wolf and there was no mention of other parents. So, what gives? Nova’s family answers the witch facet.
Mooncakes is a richly illustrated, well told story about trying to find oneself, about the different kinds of magic in life, about love and family in different forms. A definite recommendation. 👍
Suzanne Walker is a Chicago-based writer and editor. She is co-creator of the graphic novel Mooncakes (Lion Forge, October 2019) with artist Wendy Xu. Her short fiction has been published in Clarkesworld, and she has published nonfiction articles with Uncanny Magazine, StarTrek.com, Women Write About Comics, and the anthology Barriers and Belonging: Personal Narratives of Disability. She has spoken at numerous conventions on a variety of topics ranging from disability representation in sci-fi/fantasy to the importance of fair compensation for marginalized SF/F creators. You can find her posting pictures of her cat and occasionally yelling about baseball on Twitter: @suzusaur.
Wendy Xu is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and comics artist with three upcoming graphic novels from Harper Collins.She is the co-creator of “Mooncakes”, a young adult fantasy graphic novel out in 2019 from Lion Forge Comics, and part of it can be read on mooncakescomic.tumblr.com. Her work has been featured on Catapult, Barnes & Noble Sci-fi/Fantasy Blog, and Tor.com, among other places. She currently works as an assistant editor curating young adult and children’s books. You can find more art on her instagram: @artofwendyxu or on twitter: @angrygirLcomicsWendy is represented by Linda Camacho at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency. Please direct all professional inquiries to her agent via email: email@example.com.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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