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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mini-Review: Hope Larson's Mercury

Mercury, by Hope Larson

Set in both 19th-century and present-day Nova Scotia, Hope Larson's latest YA graphic novel intertwines snapshots of  the most important relationships in the average teenage girl's life with a tale of  mysterious strangers, old and new friends, family tragedy, and hidden treasure. 

When an enigmatic young man arrives at her family's farm with a business proposition, Gold Rush-era teenager Josey Fraser is enchanted by his tales of distant lands and develops a crush almost immediately; her stern, superstitious mother, however, knows better than to trust him.  Years later Josey's descendant Tara has a lot of adjustments to navigate- she's been sleeping on her cousin's floor ever since her house burned down, playing phone tag with her faraway mom, and preparing for public high school after years of in-home education.  Jumping between past and present, Mercury follows these young women as their lives are affected by mystical forces and shifting allegiances, and as they find new strengths of their own.

I really enjoyed the easy magical-realism of this story, and appreciated the girl's-eye perspective (a vantage point that is slowly becoming more common in fictional comics today, and it's about time!).   Larson's fluid lines are beautiful and easy for the eye to read.  Also fun is her creative use of symbols to reinforce subtle moments, like a potato covered with human eyes, or the word "swelter" rising from the ground like a shimmering wave of heat.   I'd recommend Mercury for fans of Faith Erin Hicks or Raina Telgemeier, or anyone who likes young adult literature!

Fun fact: Larson is married to Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley!  Her other works include Chiggers, Salamander Dream, and Gray Horses.


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