By: Katie O'Neill
Illustrator: Katie O'Neill
Release Date: September 26, 2018
Publisher: Oni Press
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Last year I discovered a middle grade graphic novel that stole my heart titled The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill. When I saw that another fantasy middle grade graphic novel was being published by the same author, I jumped on the chance to read it. Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill is a beautiful graphic novel that talks about family, loss, environmentalism, and is sure to warm your heart.
The story is set on a small island recently ravaged by a terrible storm. A young girl named Lana arrives with her father to help her aunt rebuild. Father and daughter have opposing feelings on returning to their old home and the place where Lana’s mother died. But when Lana finds a tiny seahorse that’s been wounded which isn’t a seashorse at all but an aquacorn, the secrets her aunt has kept for years finally come to light, and a whole new world opens right at Lana’s feet.
This is another fantastic graphic novel by a writer who is quickly becoming one of my favorites. The world the story is set in is very much like our own, except, of course, for the aquicorns who live along the coastline. The world is a very enclosed one – a small island with a small population. Everyone knows everyone else, and surviving here takes the whole village working together. Lana and her father have returned from a nearby city to help rebuild, those ties of community still present and strong even in the face of grief that time won’t heal which only grows stronger when being on the island.
The aquicorns are a very unique type of mythical creature, and one which I don’t believe I’ve ever seen depicted before. It is a very clever play on the unicorn, and one which I enjoyed very much. The tiny, adorable aquicorn Lana rescues is but one of many kinds of aquicorn. We get to see more, larger aquicorns as the story goes on, as well as a fantastical underwater world.
A lot was said on environmentalism in a rather straightforward way. The aquicorns are important to the island, and a certain symbiosis must be kept. Something that stood out to me was the way in which Lana spoke about her grief after her mother’s death and the ensuing depression. It was so raw, and put words to feelings in blunt, blatant way that remained heartfelt.
The art is beautiful. It is full of pastels and has a distinct lack of thick, black border lines. The way the character’s hair blows in the sea breeze is incredibly natural. The sky is a mass of changing colors and swirls clouds, showing both the passage of time and the beauty of the seascape.
I really enjoyed Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill. This is a story about environmentalism, loss, family, learning to work together, and LGBT+ themes. It is a beautiful story that is sure to please readers of all ages.