Queer Magic and Finding Your Place: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

Posted 7th July 2019 by Siavahda in Fantasy Reviews, Queer Lit, Reviews / 0 Comments

Queer Magic and Finding Your Place: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy XuMooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu
Representation: wlw, PoC, Non-Binary, Fat
on October 15th 2019
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Urban Fantasy
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five-stars

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 this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This a wonderful graphic novel that I read in a single setting – I couldn’t put it down, and had no desire to! Mooncakes felt like a summer dream – heartwarming and sweet with enough at stake to keep the plot from stagnating, with a slightly cutesy art style that perfectly suited the story’s tone. It also stands as a perfect counter to those who claim you can’t put ‘that much’ diversity into a story without it feeling forced – I was flipping pages so quickly, because the story flowed at such a natural pace, that I only realised it was ‘unusually’ inclusive when I’d finished and was pondering what I’d just read. The two main characters are Asian; one is non-binary, and the other is Deaf and being raised by her wlw grandmothers. The best friend is fat – and while she isvery funny, she’s not just there for comic relief. And nothing about this stood out as unusual in any way; they’re all just people, and the nonchalant way in which they accept each other’s differences makes them all complete non-issues – the ease with which the grandmother’s accepted and adjusted to Tam’s use of ‘they’ pronouns made me choke up a little, because that’s exactly how it ought to work.

What I mean is, the characters all feel like completely real people. You might do a double-take at the magic and werewolves, but not the hearing aids or the non-binary pronouns – not when it’s all presented so matter-of-factly and the panels are urging you on to the next bit of the story. This is how it is in real life, of course – people are just people,in all their different flavours – but it’s a complete delight to get to see it and read in in fiction too.

The story is a reasonably simple one; Nova, a young witch, and Tam, a non-binary werewolf, team up to take care of a demon in the local woods, reconnecting after many years apart and falling for each other in the process. The fact that the reader can see it coming from a mile away in no way detracts from the stupidly big grin I had on my face as I read – despite the presence of, you know, demons, this is just…a summer-dream book. That’s really the only way I know how to put it. It’s cute and sneakily deep, magical and fierce, a story about first loves and being brave and finding your place in the world, and personally, I really want a prequel about the bad-ass grandmas and their past adventures! 

And I’ll try to say this without spoilers, but I adored the scene where we saw what lies beyond the magical gates in the woods. The designs of the various magical spirits, and the way in which they interact with the witches, was just wonderful. And I was ridiculously happy with our Happily Ever After. As someone who always has questions about where demons come from in any given story, I liked the explanation here and was glad everything ended well on that front too.

The perfect graphic novel to curl up with on a rainy afternoon, or whenever you happen to be feeling low. I guarantee you won’t be able to stop smiling while you read!

five-stars

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