Title: Queen of the Sea
Author: Dylan Meconis
Genre: YA Graphic Novel/Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 400
I guess I should fess up right off the bat that I know absolutely nothing about the historical events this graphic novel is inspired by (the exile of Queen Elizabeth I by her sister,) I just kept seeing this book around and finally checked it out from the library for the hell of it. The Queen of the Sea is categorized as an ‘alternate history,’ so that lets you know right off the bat that the author took liberties with it.
The graphic novel centers around a clever, strong-willed young girl named Margaret who lives on an isolated island and is essentially being raised by a group of nuns. Margaret can’t remember ever leaving the island and the nuns never travel anywhere either, so all their food and materials is shipped to them by boat. Unsurprisingly Margaret is really bored, and she is temporarily sustained by the royal intrigue and gossip that reaches her eager young ears and a crush on a fellow exiled youth with whom she builds a shaky friendship.
Margaret’s whole life begins to change when a prisoner is brought to the island and subjected to the brutal abuses of a woman put in charge of her. It’s been decided that the captive woman, Eleanor, is a threat to the kingdom and the reign of the true queen and even though Margaret is fascinated by her, Eleanor is sullen and rude and does nothing to endear herself to the girl. As Margaret learns more about Eleanor and how their fates are unexpectedly intertwined, however, she becomes determined to help Eleanor and finally seek out the truth.
I really liked the artwork in this book and how much attention was paid to bringing the characters to life. My favorite character design was the one for the head nun because of the detailed lines and crevices in her face and her expressions. I also really liked how all the nuns had interesting backstories that made you want to know more about them, and that they were fairly sympathetic and not just used as background characters.
I didn’t feel that I really became emotionally attached to any of characters like I sometimes have with some other graphic novels. I think the most compelling part of the book was the setting, which was unusual and claustrophobic while still holding a surprising amount of mystery. The plotline was fast-paced and there was always something interesting going on even at the occasional slow-paced moments. Unfortunately, The Queen of the Sea concludes in the middle of the story with the dreaded To Be Continued cut-off! I hope I can remember what actually happened in this before a sequel (?) is published.
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