Review of The Well

The Well The Well
by Jake Wyatt; illus. by Choo
Middle School, High School    First Second    176 pp.   g
5/22    978-1-250-81652-8    $24.99
Paper ed.  978-1-626-72414-3    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-87842-7    $11.99

This post-apocalyptic, archipelago-set graphic novel teems with atmosphere and angst, in addition to gutsy witches, mysterious curses, and horrifying monsters. Teenage ­Li-Zhen, or Lizzy, is a witch with a tragic family history—her mother, father, and grandmother died fighting a sea serpent, the Leviathan, when she was an infant. Now Lizzy, traveling on her own for the first time to market to sell her and her grandfather’s farm goods, spends all her money at the fair (where she passes time with her same-sex crush, Eli). She steals three coins from a wishing well to pay her ferry fare home; cursed, she must fulfill the three wishes that she stole, or the well will take her “down into the water, into the dark.” A series of accelerating adventures unfolds, all leading to a ferocious battle between Lizzy and the Leviathan. Choo’s manga-influenced cartooning is cinematic and immersive, expertly balancing long-distance establishing shots with up-close character-driven action. The digitally produced illustrations are rendered in a thin black line, providing plenty of open space for an ever-changing, emotive color palette within immersive, intriguing visuals.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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