Tidesong | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"Sophie is a young witch whose mother and grandmother pressure her to attend the Royal Magic Academy—the best magic school in the realm—even though her magic is shaky at best. To train for her entrance exams, Sophie is sent to relatives she’s never met.
Cousin Sage and Great-Aunt Lan seem more interested in giving Sophie chores than in teaching her magic. Frustrated, Sophie attempts magic on her own, but the spell goes wrong, and she accidentally entangles her magic with the magic of a young water dragon named Lir.
Lir is trapped on land and can’t remember where he came from. Even so, he’s everything Sophie isn’t—beloved by Sophie’s family and skilled at magic. With his help, Sophie might just ace her entrance exams, but that means standing in the way of Lir’s attempts to regain his memories. Sophie knows what she’s doing is wrong, but without Lir’s help, can she prove herself?"
Tidesong is a middle-grade fantasy graphic novel by Wendy Xu.
When it comes to graphic novels or middle-grade, you don't necessarily have to be in the target demographic in order to enjoy the story. Take Studio Ghibli and The Tea Dragon Society, it is fun for all ages.
Sometimes, however, it is made apparent that you need to be of the targeted age in order to connect with the story, and that is the case here. I just was not able to enjoy this as much as I maybe could have if I was younger, because I found Sophie to be rather naïve and impulsive, which does make sense considering her age. Again though, I am not her age so I couldn't understand her motivations.
All that being said, let's get into the details.
While the art style wasn't the most sophisticated looking, there were some stylistic choices I liked. I thought it was interesting how, when showing a flashback, the colour of the page would be beige and not white. It was also an interesting choice to make Sophie's intrusive thoughts in a red bubble instead of white.
Considering the medium and age demographic, this isn't the most elaborate story ever but it isn't really meant to be. We follow Sophie who goes to train under her aunt in order to prepare herself for the entrance exam at the local magic academy. Things get messy when, in a reckless move, she accidentally ties herself to a dragon in human form, and now must figure out how to get herself out of this mess.
I didn't particularly care for the story, mainly because of the characters the story was told through, but I will get to that later. However, when I finished, I also wanted more out of it. The story could have extended a bit more, but it just stopped with some open plotlines.
Most of the characters I didn't care about, while two characters made me frustrated. Let's start with Sophie. She, while what she was feeling and doing fit her age, was stuck in a cycle of feeling useless, lashing out, then running away and crying. After this cycle got repeated a few times I got tired of it.
The other character that I was not a fan of was Sophie's aunt. I get the need to have a push factor so that Sophie can reach her full potential, but I didn't like that it was the aunt being emotionally abusive. It just wasn't really necessary, especially when the aunt ends up doing a rapid turnaround later on.
This story was trying to mean something, and I think that was its downfall. It might have been a whole lot more interesting if this was just a slice of life.
I ended up giving this a middle rating because, while I didn't particularly enjoy this, I cannot fault it because this just wasn't meant for me.
If you are looking for a graphic novel that I personally think has a great meaningful message, I would suggest you pick up Aquicorn Cove by Kay O'Neill instead. For older audiences, I would recommend Erie Waters by Joanna Kwan.