All the dragons are gone from the island of May. So when Tansy and her father discover Dragon’s Bane, an herb that only grows where dragons lie, no one will believe that a dragon still lives. When Tansy’s father disappears she knows it is the dragon that she is partly responsible for awakening. As the town’s new healer she must find a way to rally her town and find a true hero that can slay a dragon. When instead all they can find is a con man, braggart named Lancot she realizes she’ll have to improvise.
This is a truly lovely book. Beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated, filled with magic and heart, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It succeeds magnificently as a straightforward fairy tale with excellent touches or romance and adventure, but it also works on deeper levels. There’s a wonderful subtext about the role of women in society, about the pressure to become the people are parents want us to be, about the power of imagination in confronting fear and evil, and about the necessity of stories in our world. The art is just perfect for a fairy tale. Each panel is like a mix between a illustration form a children’s book, a painting, and a modern comic. It all works together seamlessly. I especially applaud the character designs, far too many comics resort to clothes and hair to differentiate characters, but Rebecca Guay actually draws character’s with faces...that…look…different!!! Novel concept I know! I also thought it was great to have a strong female character, while beautiful, that isn’t defined by her beauty or running around in a ridiculously revealing outfit. In fact, the character of Lancot is the eye candy, and in fitting with notions of beauty in classic times is drawn as attractive. This is a treasure of a book and I hope people (yes even dudes) give it a chance and discover it’s magic. It’s one of the rare comics that shows the potential of visuals to tell a deeper (or at least different) story than text alone can. Hopefully it will also move people to check out Jane Yolen’s novels which are just brilliant as well. Which you can read in YP FIC YOLEN.