Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes
Date Published: October 15th, 2019
Publisher: Lion Forge
Pages: 256 pages
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
Synopsis: 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.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
This is a spoiler-free review.
This was such an adorable and heartwarming graphic novel. It’s packed with witchy vibes, a sweet young romance, werewolf magic, and the strength and pure love that a family—both biological and found—can give. Between the art and the story itself, it really captures the feeling of Fall—cooler weather, cozy nights, spooky feels, changing leaves. I found myself easily transported into this world, the atmosphere almost tangible. It is an absolutely beautiful read on so many levels.
In this story, we follow two best friends. Nova Huang is a brilliant, Chinese-American teenage witch who works with her two grandmothers in their bookshop. She helps them loan out books on spells while also going out and investigating any odd, supernatural happenings around their town in New England. Tam Lang, Nova’s childhood best friend, is a Chinese-American, nonbinary werewolf…and also Nova’s long-time crush.
The pair have lived apart for a few years with Tam having to constantly wander to escape those who wish to harness her power for evil. Then, one night, Nova stumbles across Tam battling a horse demon in the woods outside town. Soon, Tam, Nova, and the grandmothers team up to fight the forces pursuing Tam and defend the magic of the wolves. And something even more powerful is being rekindled between Nova and Tam.
My favorite part of this novel is the illustrations. They are absolutely perfect for the story and portray the tone of it incredibly well. Just the color scheme alone—deep, rich tones with a somewhat muted look—immediately sets the atmosphere of the novel. The colors Xu uses capture the mysterious and dangerous undertones of the text while also creating a feeling of warmth and welcoming to match the themes of family and love. And the style of the illustrations themselves is one of my favorites out of all the graphic novels I’ve ever read.
The story is also written so well and it is fantastic to see so much diversity being put into this novel. It is a perfect addition to the ever-growing library of LGBT+ young adult books. The characters are brought to life and developed extremely well in such a short amount of time. Walker does a great job forming the relationships between the characters and the close ties they share. Nova is a strong, intelligent, and brave young witch who will drop everything to help her loved ones and community. And Tam, equally strong but lost and hurting, finds love, comfort, and a sense of belonging that, as a whole, help her fight for herself and those she cares about.
The only thing I wish is that the novel was longer. There were a few parts of the story that I felt were just a bit underdeveloped. I would have loved to see more back story for both of the main characters, particularly Nova and her family. I would also have loved to see more of Nova and Tam’s relationship progress as well as learn in more depth about the magical aspects of the story—both good and evil. Also…I just need more of this!
Mooncakes is a beautifully-crafted and magical graphic novel. I can’t think of any better way to describe my experience with this novel than by saying that it made my heart happy. It has everything I love—queer romance, the unconditional love of found family, witches, werewolves, magical animals, and libraries of spells. What more could you want?! I very highly recommend picking it up this fall to read during a cozy night in with a warm drink (and maybe a snack cause, oh boy, was I craving mooncakes after this). This is truly an enchanting story that readers of any age will love.