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 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.