Review of Salt Magic

 Salt Magic 
by Hope Larson; illus. by Rebecca Mock 
Middle School    Ferguson/Holiday    240 pp.    g
10/21    978-0-8234-4620-9    $21.99 
Paper ed.  978-0-8234-5050-3    $14.99 
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-5027-5    $12.99 

In this third graphic novel collaboration between Larson and Mock (Compass South, rev. 7/16; Knife’s Edge), what begins as a twentieth-century family drama quickly uncoils into a much more sinister — and spellbinding — modern fairy tale. Vonceil Taggert is the youngest of five siblings and the most adventuresome of the lot. So when her eldest brother, Elber, returns to Oklahoma after his service in WWI and immediately marries his longtime sweetheart, it’s a disappointment to Vonceil, who’d had higher hopes for her favorite sibling. The nuptials also vex the stylish and enigmatic Greda, a Frenchwoman who claims to be Elber’s ex-love and whose bruised pride causes her to curse the Taggert farm’s spring to run with only salt water — a death sentence given the current drought. Vonceil pledges to restore their water and, with the help of an unlikely accomplice, discovers secrets about Greda that will affect the Taggert family forever. In Mock’s skillful art, each panel glints with sharp, precise color work and expert shadow play, highlighting the cruel, dark side of Larson’s world — a satisfying blend of the mythical and the historical that will enthrall graphic-novel lovers. 

From the November/December 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Niki Marion

Niki Marion is the children’s outreach manager at Third Place Books in Seattle. She holds a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons University.

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