A story about love and demons, family and witchcraft.
About This Book
Title & Author: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker
Illustrator: Wendy Xu
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Romance, Graphic Novel
Length: 256 pages
Publication: Oni Press [October 15, 2019]
Book Description: 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. 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 through the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old, in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
Star Rating: 🍰🍰🍰 • 3 / 5 cakes!
So. D’you wanna tell me what’s going on?
Okay, to start off this review, I want to immediately make clear that this graphic novel was absolutely adorable. Saccharinely sweet, one might say, and not just because of the gorgeous cover.
At its core, this book is just a chill, slice-of-life story, with some fantasy and romance elements added to the mix. (I know. I have to stop it with these baking puns.) And I enjoyed it for being what it was. Not to mention, the main characters were pretty likeable, which is exceedingly important in a novel. So, before I get into the stuff I didn’t like as much, let’s talk about the things this book did that were fantastic.
First of all: the characters. I liked Nova 🪄🧹 and Tam🐺🌳 – the protagonists. I liked how Nova was a witch and how she used the knowledge and magic she’d gained through her studies in her daily life. It seemed so casual and natural, and there was nothing forced about it. (I also enjoyed how Nova being hard of hearing was handled. I didn’t really know where to put this, but I wanted to mention it, so it’s here.)
I also liked Tam and their werewolf powers, and how the book emphasized that werewolves have magic, which is different from witch magic. I thought that was really cool, and it’s something I’ve never really seen before in a book. I also loved how the book handled Tam’s enby status. It was just a part of their character, and wasn’t their one and only defining character trail. Tam is also self-conscious, brave, and protective.
I missed you too.
Tatyana 🧪💡 was the absolute best character in the novel, though. I loved how she was a total science nerd, and the scepticism she showed towards what could be done with magic, despite knowing that it existed. I also loved how supportive Nova’s grandmas were, and how the relationship mostly focused on in Mooncakes wasn’t the romance (though there was romance) but the found family aspect.
Also, before we get into my cons for the book, I really want to highlight the artwork. It’s seriously good. The cover is merely a prelude to the amazing pictures inside. Wendy Xu is a very talented artist, and should definitely be recognized for it.
Now, it’s time for my grievances. First off, the antagonists sucked. I know, I know, it’s a slice-of-life. But I just kind of expected the villains to be better, is all.
Second off, I did not appreciate the insta-love between Tam and Nova. I should clarify that this point in particular is probably a me thing: I’m a slow-burn type of gal. But I also feel like getting together at the end of Chapter 2, after only meeting again for the first time in years at the end of Chapter 1, was a little too fast. Yeah, I get it – they’re teenagers. It still bothered me. I also would’ve liked to get to know Nova and Tam as individual characters more before we got to know them as a couple. I much preferred all of the found family stuff. (The lesbian grandmas were perfect, though. I loved reading them interact.)
Also, one last criticism. I hated how Nova tried to rub in one of the antagonist’s faces that she was gonna make out with Tam. Like, this individual obviously did not care whatsoever. Not to mention, it seemed kind of childish for a 17-year-old; it honestly sounds more like something a 12-year-old would do. And also, the antagonists were too stupid to use this information, freely given, as some sort of leverage. Like, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop for most of the novel. (Minor spoilers, I guess?)
Anyway, Mooncakes was, over all, pretty great. It was beautifully illustrated, with a likable setting and characters. (Who doesn’t love a witchy story set in New England?!?) This book is great for those of you who enjoy gorgeous graphic novels and some fantasy. It’s a wonderful, cozy read, perfect throughout any time during the fall, though near Halloween might be the best.
Have you read this book? What are your favorite things to read around Halloween? Thank you all for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!