Review: Tidesong by Wendy Xu


Sophie is a young witch whose mother and grandmother pressure her to attend the Royal Magic Academy—the best magic school in the realm—even though her magic is shaky at best. To train for her entrance exams, Sophie is sent to relatives she’s never met.
Cousin Sage and Great-Aunt Lan seem more interested in giving Sophie chores than in teaching her magic. Frustrated, Sophie attempts magic on her own, but the spell goes wrong, and she accidentally entangles her magic with the magic of a young water dragon named Lir.
Lir is trapped on land and can’t remember where he came from. Even so, he’s everything Sophie isn’t—beloved by Sophie’s family and skilled at magic. With his help, Sophie might just ace her entrance exams, but that means standing in the way of Lir’s attempts to regain his memories. Sophie knows what she’s doing is wrong, but without Lir’s help, can she prove herself?

Inspired by East Aisan Culture, Tidesong is a graphic novel with Studio Ghibli undertones, following Sophie, a young witch who struggles with both her magic and making friends. Sent to live with her cousin and great aunt, Sophie is given more chores than magic lessons. She attempts to perform magic on her own, but becomes entangled in a world of underwater magic, shapeshifting and dragons. As Sophie attempts to improve her magic skills, she also challenges expectations from family and friends.

The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, depicting a cosy seaside town with a vibrant, striking colour palette. Sophie is a headstrong 12 year old girl who struggles with anxiety, and this is visualised throughout the story in separate thought bubbles. The story feels somewhat familiar and comfortable, but has a complex magical plot which is foreshadowed by a section of mythology at the start of the novel. Due to the target audience being younger readers aged 9-12, the mythology could be a little confusing and hard to follow, and requires a considerable amount of backstory for a short story presented in a graphic novel format.

In such a brief space, the story manages to weave together a heartwarming relationship between Sophie and her newfound family and friends, including Lir, a shapeshifting water dragon who is trapped on land due to Sophie’s backfiring magic. The character development can sometimes feel a little rushed, with the balance difficult to strike in such few words. Sophie herself struggles with anxiety and this is reflected in the way she is treated by her parents. The separate thought bubbles to show her anxious thoughts were striking and relatable to the reader.

Tidesong will be perfect for fans of Studio Ghibli, with a beautiful, whimsical and magical feeling similar to Kiki’s Delivery Service. Although aimed at a young audience, the book could be suitable and enjoyable for all ages. The font is legible and created from the author’s own handwriting. The story was heartwarming with a beautiful moral about friendship, family and self-acceptance.

4.5 out of 5 stars


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker + Wendy Xu

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Goodreads | Blackwells

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.
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 in the woods. 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 against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

I’ve wanted to read this since before it was released. In fact, I even had an e-arc on Netgalley, but unfortunately I couldn’t download the file for some reason. I’ve been looking for a copy ever since but could never find them, and I finally managed to get one a month or so ago! I think they’ve been reprinted as there is still a few available on Blackwell’s and Forbidden Planet if you’re looking for one.

I was a little hesitant that this wouldn’t live up to expectations as I’ve wanted to read it for over a year, but it really did. This was gorgeous. The artwork was absolutely beautiful and the colours were stunning. As soon as I opened the book I knew I was going to love the art style. I devoured this and read it in two sittings (it would have been one if I didn’t stop for a phone call in the middle!).

I loved that this was a contemporary book with paranormal elements that just feel ‘normal’ for the story. It talked about family, friendship and relationships but also demons, magic, witches and werewolves. And I felt like it just worked. Nothing felt forced, it was a perfect combination. There was also so much diversity, with Asian-American main characters, a non-binary main character, queer relationships and even a main character with a hearing impairment. This all felt natural and flowed really well in the story, but are still discussed in relation to it. Nova’s hearing impairment was discussed in relation to her magic, and is not ignored in the face of anything.

I adored everything about this. The characters are lovely and so well written – I related to them instantly and loved their relationships. The world was super interesting. The plot was adventurous, but the story didn’t shy away from important and hard-hitting discussions. The artwork was vibrant and utterly addictive. I’m so, so glad I read this, it felt like a hug, a warm blanket, a cup of hot chocolate. I feel like it’s one I will re-read again and again!

5 out of 5 stars


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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