Wednesday, December 4, 2013
By Hope Larson
Published by Atheneum
Copyright © 2010
Review by Anthony Kendrick
“Mercury” is, for me, the embodiment of a great graphic novel. Larson tells a strong story that is realistic with just a hint of magic. And her illustrations show so well just what can be done in simple black and white.
Josie Fraser has her heart set on her best friend’s brother Jonathan, until a stranger by the name of Asa Curry comes to the farm. He seems like a good God fearing young man and he is handsome to boot. He has come to propose a business venture with Josie’s father, he wants to form a partnership with him and mine for gold on his property. Josie falls in love with him and they plan to marry, but she soon learns that Asa isn’t what he seems.
150 years later Josie’s descendant, Tara Fraser, is living with her Aunt in the same town. Tara’s mother has been working in Alberta since their house burned down back home. Her mother wants to sell the family property and have Tara move to Alberta with her, but Tara is less than enthused about this idea. That house and property had been in Tara and Josie’s family for a long time, and Tara isn’t ready to give up on it.
As we read Josie’s story slipping into tragedy and sadness, we simultaneously get to read of Tara’s story rising from tragedy and sadness into hope that has its roots in the Nova Scotia Gold Rush.
Hope Larson takes us to a place that most of us have never been, or even thought of going, and she takes us to a time and event that we didn’t even know happened. I had no idea that there was a Nova Scotia gold rush, but there was one in the 1860’s and beyond. In truth there is still small scale gold mining there today. I love stories that can inform and transport you to such events.
In addition to the story the artwork is wonderful. The black and white frames really move the story along and Larson has a real knack for conveying emotion with facial expressions. Another thing that I noticed from page one is that her drawing style seems to be slightly influenced by Jeff Smith, writer and illustrator of the Bone graphic novels. (One of the best, if not the best, graphic novels ever.) I absolutely love Smith’s style and I love Larson’s just as much.
Mercury is suitable for most teens and the characters are very relatable. If, like me, you love graphic novels that are heavier on story and relatable characters rather than on out of this world color graphics and superheroes, then Mercury is definitely for you.