Vol 1, If I Only Had a Heart: illustrated by Drew Zucker
Canto is a charming fantasy that is 1 part Labyrinth, 1 part Wizard of Oz, and 2 parts entertaining hero's journey. In this story, Canto is part of a race of beings enslaved by another race to continuously chop down fuel for the mighty furnaces. Canto's people are bereft of their hearts as babies so that they cannot feel. In their place, they are given a clock that winds down to their inevitable deaths. However, Canto finds himself falling in love with another of his kind. She gets injured, and the only way to save her is to undertake a journey to recover her stolen heart. Canto makes friends on his journey who help him come face to face with the Shrouded Man, the being at the center of the enslavement of the world.
Canto certainly tugs at the heartstrings (pun intended). He is small but mighty, and his courage is certainly inspirational. Though he faces many set backs, he continues to persevere to save the one he loves. The story weaves in the only "tale" that has survived generations -- that of a knight questing to save a princess atop the tallest tower on the tallest mountain. The tale has no ending, and Canto discovers why when he gets atop his own tallest tower on the tallest mountain. While the repetition of this story throughout can be a little monotonous, it is a nice through-thread to the very end of the volume. The art of this book is whimsical and perfectly complements the fantasy elements throughout. The colors are mainly soft and often pastel, which also lends itself perfectly to the story.
I would rate this story for older elementary and up, owing to a slight bit of fantasy violence (no blood), and some serious elements, such as slavery and death, that might not suite younger readers.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability level: Grades 5-12
This review was made possible with an advanced reader copy from the publisher through Edelweiss. This graphic novel will be on sale March 24, 2020.
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Elementary School, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Comicbooks, Fantasy, CSLA 2021
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