by Katie O'Neill
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.
Ms. O’Neill’s art is adorably cute, and I liked her previous graphic novel, The Tea Dragon Society, so much that I bought a signed copy, so I was excited to see she had something new coming out with equally adorable fantasy creatures.
Lana and her father have returned to their seaside hometown after it’s been hit by a big storm to help her Aunt Mae. Lana is happy to be away from the big city and back near the ocean, partly because she has so many wonderful memories of her mother there. When she discovers a hurt seahorse-like animal, she brings it home to help recuperate. As Lana helps her aunt and the other villagers recover from the storm, as well as the little fish, she discovers how intertwined the villagers are with the sea and each other – and finds strength of her own.
One of my favorite parts of this book was its depiction of Lana’s grief and how she overcame it. I thought it was handled in a very age-appropriate way that didn’t dumb-down the overwhelming feeling of grief, while still focusing on Lana’s happy memories of her mother.
The art is deceptively simple, but stunning. I especially loved the differences in color palettes between village life and the underwater realm. The author’s love for the sea really stands out, with beautiful illustrations of various marine flora and fauna. The character designs are expressive as well, from Lana to Aunt Mae to the mermaid-like Aure. I especially loved the depiction of the relationship between Aunt Mae and Aure.
I liked the basic theme of the novel – that helping and protecting others makes you stronger. I thought the emphasis on conservation was a bit heavy-handed, but then, this is a story meant for kids. Overall, though, this is an adorably fun and quick read, and I’ll definitely be buying a hard copy for my kids.