Mooncakes Graphic Novel Review*
*I was gifted a copy of Mooncakes graphic novel for review from the publisher via Netgalley.*
Author: Suzanne Walker
Artist: Wendy Xu
Publisher: Lion Forge
Published: 15th October 2019
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, LGBTQIAP+
I am very new to graphic novels and have been trying to put together a list of those that I should read. When the Mooncakes graphic novel popped up on Netgalley it was the perfect opportunity to delve into the genre! It is described as “A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft”, which is definitely my cup of tea. Nova follows a white wolf into the woods one night and is shocked to find her childhood friend battling a demon. Tam is in trouble, however they know that Nova has always been there for them. Together they conjure a plan to defeat the dark forces that are at work but there are plenty of surprises in store.
Representation matters and it plays a huge part in Mooncakes with Chinese-American main characters, queer, non-binary and disability representation.
This graphic novel has great non-binary rep with one of the main characters using they/them pronouns. As soon as Tam states that they are non-binary there is no misgendering by other characters, it is accepted and the relationships are in no way altered because of this. I think it would have been very easy for Nova’s Grandmothers to ‘slip’ in this regard, even if the point was to correct them but they don’t and that is very refreshing.
Speaking of Grandmothers, Nova has two in a same-sex relationship. They are SO cute together and I love them so much as characters. Nova herself is deaf and wears hearing aids. I get very excited to see disability representation, which is quite sad really as it reminds me of how little there usually is. I really hope to find more graphic novels with as much representation in the future.
Characters & Relationships
The protagonist of the story is Nova, a sweet, intelligent witch who lives with her Grandmothers. She initially comes across as self-confident but throughout the novel she has moments of self-doubt, which feel very realistic. I love Nova’s multi-layered relationship with Tam, as well as how she relates to her Grandmothers.
Nova’s Grandmothers are exactly the sort of grandparents I would wish for. Firstly, they are witches and run a book shop so they are automatic keepers. Secondly, and more importantly, they are wonderfully supportive of Nova & Tam. They provide help and advice but do not judge or dictate. They trust that Nova can handle herself, which gives me all of the warm fuzzies.
Trusting relationships are at the heart of Mooncakes and are a theme as much as they are part of character development. Tam, as a werewolf, has not had the same experiences as Nova, so it is lovely to see them involved in Nova’s family unit.
One of my favourite characters is Tatyana, Nova’s best friend (aside from Tam). She is a big, confident, intelligent girl who says it how it is. Tatyana is a fantastic friend, always being so supportive of Nova, even when it is related to something that she doesn’t really understand. Coming from a science background, witchcraft is out of her comfort zone but when Nova needs her she is always happy to help.
The art for Mooncakes graphic novel is really cute. Wendy Xu has captured all of the characters really well. I love the magical forest creatures, which are very reminiscent of Pokémon. The tone of the colours is really nice but I wish that it continued all the way through. I know that graphic novels do have black & white pages but it isn’t until quite late in this one, by which time I had become accustomed to the coloured style. I am sure it would not bother a seasoned graphic novel reader however.
I really enjoyed reading Mooncakes and I think it was the perfect introduction into graphic novels. It is cute, queer and full of lovely characters that I became invested in. I really hope that there are plans for a second Mooncakes graphic novel as I would love to see more of these characters and the magical world that they live in. Mooncakes is great for fans of Heartstopper as I think they will both give you all the feels. It is also the perfect October read as it is both Autumnal and full of magic.
*Mooncakes is available on the Book Depository website via my affiliate link here. Using my affiliate link costs you nothing extra but I earn a small commission, for which I would be extremely grateful.*