Will O’ The Wisp

18 Nov

Today’s book review is for Will O’ The Wisp: An Aurora Grimeon Story, written by Tom Hammock, illustrated by Megan Hutchinson, published by Archaia Entertainment. It is scheduled to be released on December 10, 2013. I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Will O' the Wisp book cover

Will O’ The Wisp is a wonderful graphic novel debut from Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchinson. Aurora Grimeon finds herself orphaned after her parents accidentally ingest death cap mushrooms. Having no other family, Aurora is sent to live with a grandfather she has never met, on Ossuary Isle–deep in the swamps of Louisiana. Ossuary Isle is a strange place: there are more graves than people, no other children around, and the locals seem to all adhere to Hoodoo. Aurora doesn’t feel like she belongs in her new home. But when mysterious deaths start plaguing the small swamp community, she can’t help but investigate. Will Aurora get to the bottom of things before she ends up at the bottom of the swamp?

Hammock does an excellent job at crafting a story full of intrigue and suspense. His descriptions and characters make Ossuary Isle come to life. As someone who has never been to the swamps of Louisiana, I felt like I could picture this place and feel the other-worldliness of it. One thing in particular that I thought Hammock nailed was how Aurora is initially skeptical about Hoodoo, but quickly embraces it–because young adolescents often are more open and flexible in their beliefs. She’s rounded out by being curious, resilient, and independent. In short, she’s a pretty cool protagonist.

Hutchinson’s art is fabulous. The entire book has a heavy, muted, dark feel to it, due to Hutchinson’s color palette. Even the gutters (the space surrounding individual panels) are black. She also uses a lot of strong, angular lines in her work. All of these elements work together to create a sense of mystery and foreboding. I enjoyed the stylized rendering of people–everyone has exaggeratedly long legs and short torsos. It’s especially noticeable on Aurora, who is often wearing skirts and knee socks–and generally dresses like a goth.

It’s been a while since I read a great comic with a paranormal story–so this left me excited. Due to the number of dead bodies encountered in the story, it’s not recommended for readers under the age of 12, unless they are exceptionally mature. I can’t really speak to the accuracy of the depiction of hoodoo or swamp life, but I can attest that it’s an excellent work of speculative fiction for middle grades and teen readers. That’s why I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

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11 Responses to “Will O’ The Wisp”

  1. DogsMom November 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Graphic novels are not my usual read but you make the story sound intriguing. I will check this out and learn more. There are boys of that age range in our family.

    • Destiny November 20, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Graphic novels require a different set of reading skills than traditional text-based novels. And that’s good for kids (and grown-ups). For example, you have to learn how to fill in what is happening between the frames–because not everything is written in. I also like that it engages the language and visual centers in the brain. You can probably tell, I’m a big advocate of comics/graphic novels/sequential art as an educational resource.

  2. Jemima Pett November 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    Interesting idea. I’ve not read any comic books, but there’s always a first! Stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop 🙂

    • Destiny November 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      As I commented above, I’m a big advocate of comic books. I think historically they’ve been looked down upon as an inferior form of literature–but there’s been a big push to recognize the merit of the medium in the last few decades. Along side that, there has also been a big growth in terms of the genres being explored–which means that now there really is something for everyone.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. marieclx November 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Graphic novels and comics are a great genre, that we have begun exploring as a family, though I had never thought much about how it engages various centers – am glad you mentioned that. This story sound very interesting, I believe my older daughter would love it.

    • Destiny November 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      It’s something that I first started to think about on a personal level when I was interested in learning more about comics. Then I started talking with others about their value in the classroom. There are schools now incorporating comics into their curricula, which makes me happy.

      And I love that more parents are exploring the medium, too. I’m a firm believer that children should be given the chance to explore as wide a range of literature as possible.

  4. Julie Grasso November 21, 2013 at 6:13 am #

    Wow, I am totally intrigued by this kind of book as I think the illustrations would totally draw a kid in. Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

    • Destiny November 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

      I remember when I was a kid and I started transitioning to chapter books, I was so disappointed that there weren’t pictures anymore. I loved that the stories were longer and more involved–but I still wanted to have illustrations. I wish that I’d been exposed to works like this back then.

      Now I’m glad to know that there are “picture” books for people of all ages.

  5. gargoylebruce November 21, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    Looks awesome, thanks for sharing!

    • Destiny November 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      Absolutely!
      It’s always so exciting to find a great new book, it’s nice to be able to share it with others.

  6. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews November 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    Thanks for giving us a sneak peek into this new graphic novel. My son really enjoys them, although they don’t really capture my interest. I prefer imagining the setting and characters myself – but that’s just me! Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

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