Early Book Review: Will o' the Wisp by Tom Hammock, Rebecca Taylor, and Megan Hutchinson

Will o' the Wisp (Aurora Grimeon) is a graphic novel written by Tom Hammock, edited by Rebecca Taylor, and illustrated by Megan Hutchinson. It is currently scheduled for release on January 28th 2014. After her parents' accidental death by mushroom poisoning,  Aurora Grimeon is sent to live with her grandfather Silver on Ossuary Isle, which is deep in the southern swamps. She befriends her grandfather's pet raccoon Missy and explores the fog-covered island of graves. She meets the island's sinister inhabitants who care for the tombstones and mausoleums, living out their lives by the strange rules of Hoodoo magic. When ghostly things start happening out in the swamp and island residents start disappearing, Aurora jumps into the middle of the mystery. She discovers a knack for hoodoo, a few friends, and some secrets that might have better left buried.

Will o' the Wisp is a slightly macabre tale, from the death of Aurora's parents and her lack of real emotion over the loss, to the island of graves that Silver lives on. However, the story is not grim or depressing. Like most books for young and soon to be young adults, the story is also about figuring out who you are, what you want, and your place in the world. Aurora is tossed into a very strange place, with a grandfather she barely knows, and has to figure out just about everything on her own. She discovers skills and talents that she would never have explored had she not come to Ossuary Isle, and  made friends that she never could have met elsewhere. I was impressed with the portrayal of the island's inhabitants. Even when Aurora was mentally thinking of them as weird, they were not stereotypes or caricatures of people- they felt real and accurately portrayed. Of course, since I have very little exposure to hoodoo and swamp surrounded towns, I might be completely wrong on that point.

The illustrations in Will o' the Wisp matched the story and unique atmosphere perfectly. I loved the white hair on Aurora, particularly when contrasted against the darkness and misty aspects of the setting. When Missy and Aurora seemed to match, it looked even more like the pair were a mystery solving duo. The challenges of drawing mystical fogs and flames were soundly met, and left me completely happy with the artwork. Even had the story and dialogue not left me satisfied, I would have been content looking at the images on each page.

I would recommend Will o' the Wisp to tweens, young adults, and adults that enjoy graphic novels and tales that dance on the edge of the macabre. The story certainly has its dark moments, magic, and death that might make younger readers a little weary. If you think your reader is among those that would be bothered, I highly recommend taking this as an excuse to read the book yourself, and of course test it for suitability. This is a coming of age story that will appeal to those that like darker fairy tales and girls that can take care of themselves (for the most part).

Post a Comment