Mooncakes | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐.25
"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."
Mooncakes is a YA fantasy graphic novel by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu.
I am stuck in between 'meh' and 'okay' when it comes to this graphic novel. I thought that the story was fine but I didn't feel much of a connection to it and the characters as well.
Let's get into the details.
This is a graphic novel, so the pages are fully coloured which is always great. Like a lot of graphic novels, however, the art is satisfactory but is not on the same level as most webcomics and mangas (and their equivalents). I did like the inclusion of concept art and the process of making the novel at the end, it was some interesting bonus content.
The writing I thought was fine since it was simple and easy to read, but there were a couple of cringey lines.
We follow Nova, a young girl whose family runs a bookstore but are also witches as well. She ends up getting thrown into an unexpected situation when not only does her friend, Tam, suddenly return, but they also have to find a way to deal with a demon in the forest.
It is a simple enough plot that isn't too complex, but the execution of it was a bit off for me. I didn't like how progress was made in the story because of bad character decisions, but that is just a massive pet peeve for me and may not bother you. Progress in general in this book was a bit off though.
One hole in the story is that they said that they've tried everything to get rid of the demon, but barely any of their progress was shown on page, so instead it felt like they haven't exhausted their options at all.
I was also not too happy about the twist since it is a subject matter that I just don't care to read about because it felt like a cheap way to make the story more intense. The villain aspect in general was a bit comical to me as well as it wasn't very complex or developed, it was just added in to serve a purpose for the story and for the characters. It was also plainly obvious who the villain was going to be as well.
One thing I will give this story is its representation. Nova is hard of hearing and has hearing aids, while Tam is non-binary and uses gender-neutral pronouns. Besides that, Nova and Tam as the main characters didn't pull me in, and I was way more invested in the side characters instead.
Take Nova's nanas, for example, who not only were just straight-up badass, but they were so chill about everything that was going on. Honestly, I would take a story about them and their backstory over this any day. Even Nova's cousin, who has a bird head for some reason, stole the show.
The romance happened a bit too quickly for my liking. On the one hand, I know there is limited space so any development is going to happen quickly, but my issue here is that they just reunited, so to jump right into a romance seemed off to me. I would have liked it if the book spent just a little time devoted to them getting to know each other again.
While this wasn't bad, it was nothing to write home about as there are plenty of texts that use a graphic medium that deliver the same elements and representation that I find are more worth the read.