Vol 1: Fear & Fire, illustrated by V. V. Glass, colored by Natalia Neserenko
Saoirse and friend challenge each other to get to the Witch Tower first on this, the most dangerous day for being outside - it's the day the Cailleach hunts children to eat. Saoirse's father catchers her and saddles her with babysitting her sick brother, Brahm. When they sneak out later and make it to the Witch Tower, she doesn't find a deserted relic at all - they finds a fearsome witch ready to make up her dinner out of Brahm. Saoirse overpowers the witch with a hidden strength and saves her brother. Her Nan later reveals that she is witch-marked, a special descendant of magical beings. Saoirse is possibly strong enough to finally take down the four handmaidens and the Cailleach and rid the world of the threat of the Fae King being released from Tir Na Nog.
This first volume completely sucked me in and I was fine going along for the ride. Saoirse is not the perfect heroine and has her moments of self doubt and struggle with her witch powers (especially since they can overtake and corrupt her). There are a couple of twists within this first volume that actually surprised me, which was pleasant, and it really kept the narrative flowing. So much of this world is built in this first book, but it doesn't bog down the story with details. We learn lots of things as Saoirse and Brahm learn them, which, I think, also makes Saoirse a more sympathetic protagonist since she clearly has so much to learn (just like us). This story is based upon Irish folklore, complete with Tir Na Nog and Fae creatures. In that sense, it might pair up nicely with other Fae-inspired stories, like anything Sarah J. Maas, or graphic novels like The Girl from the Other Side or The Ancient Magus' Bride.
The illustrations and coloring in this story were completely immersive. Some of it felt a bit like The Legend of Korra with its bright colors and animated magical fight sequences. Glass does a wonderful job of detailing expressive characters, while Nesereko's colors really bring them to life.
BOOM rates this as a YA graphic novel. There is some violence and it's heavily hinted that the first witch they meet is eating a kid, so they're not too shy about showing some slightly gruesome things on the page.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 7-12
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Publication Date: September 14, 2021
ISBN: 9781684156214 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Comicbooks, Magic, Folklore, BOOM! Studios
Note: This was originally printed in single-issue format, thus the tag of Comicbook. However, upon trade paperback printing, its size might lend itself more to graphic fiction placement in the library.
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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