Monday, May 9, 2011

Mercury by Hope Larson: A graphic novel with a touch of magic

It seems funny to blog about Mercury after I've talked non-stop to so many people about how much I enjoyed reading this novel. After reading it, I've snagged two other graphic novels of Hope Larson's from the library and I'm following her on flickr and twitter. I am in awe of her talent :)

Mercury is a tale made up of part history, part romance, part mystery, and part magical realism.

At the open of the story, we meet Josey, a teenage girl living and working on her family’s farm in French Hill, Nova Scotia. The year is 1859. One day while Josey is working in the yard, a young prospector by the name of Asa Curry approaches the Fraser’s front door. We find out that Asa suspects the Fraser’s land to be rich with gold, and that he wishes to team up with Mr. Fraser to mine it out and sell it for a profit. Josey is intrigued by Asa, and she finds herself completely enamored of him almost instantly—he’s an outsider, he’s young and handsome, and there’s something almost magical about him. However, Josey’s superstitious mother sees Asa’s visit as one filled with omens, and she senses something dark within him.

Fast forward 150 years, and we meet Tara Fraser. Tara’s small home on the Fraser’s land has burned down, and she is left to live in French Hill with her aunt and uncle’s family while her mom travels around Canada, working different jobs to earn enough money to rebuild their lives. Tara is adjusting to going back to high school after being home-schooled; she joins the cross-country team, hoping to make new friends and to run out some of her frustrations with her absent mother. One day, Tara finds a strange heirloom in her mom’s jewelry box, one of the only things saved from the fire. Tara realizes that this unusual necklace has powers that could lead her to an old fortune and a chance for a new beginning for her family. 

Will the Fraser’s past secrets, haunted and guarded my omens from Josey’s family's past, keep Tara from the treasure buried in the French Hills?

If you have not had the joy of reading a smart, beautifully-drawn graphic novel yet, I highly suggest picking up Mercury. Larson has a unique style of storytelling, and her illustrations are fresh, striking, and simple. If you pick it up, let me know--of course, I'd love to discuss!

5Q: Intriguing back and forth contrast between Fraser's past and present, with an element of magic makes for an original, interesting plot. The Nova Scotian setting and culture adds to the originality. Characters and their personal stories are believable and can be easily related to by teens.
5P: Graphic novels are extremely popular right now, and I think graphic novels such as this one that are not just adventure-based but have a simple plot and realistic characters will appeal to teens, especially females.

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