Monday, July 12, 2010
Graphic Novel Monday: Mercury, by Hope Larson
Mercury, by Hope Larson. Published 2010 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Click here to buy Mercury via IndieBound.org. I'm an IndieBound affiliate and receive a small commission on sales.
In 2007, author and illustrator Hope Larson won an Eisner Award as an up-and-coming talent in the comics world; her book Mercury is ample demonstration of why.
In Mercury, she tells two stories which take place in the same setting albeit at different times. In 1859 in Nova Scotia, a young girl named Josey meets a handsome, intriguing stranger named Asa Curry, who promises to help her father find riches in the hills. He seems to have a particular talent for finding gold but there's something not quite right about him, and her mother is deeply suspicious. In the present day, 10th grader Tara Fraser is dealing with the stress of losing her family home to fire. Quite by accident, she finds a very special necklace, a family heirloom that also belonged to Josey- one that might hold the answers to her family's problems.
Larson tells the stories by alternating between the two, varying the visual style slightly as she goes back and forth. Throughout she uses a black and white style that I found particularly effective in the 1850s sequences, where much of the story takes place in dark woods and stormy nights. The black background adds both a spooky and old-fashioned feel, perfect for whistling winds and pitch-black forests. I liked how Larson opens the book by showing how the same patch of land changes over the years, from virgin forest to suburban neighborhood. And in the present-day sequences, I like the sense of setting Larson creates. Tara's not just living in a generic town, or even a generic Canadian town; Larson's use of local slang, nomenclature and cuisine creates a very specific sense of place.
Overall I'd recommend Mercury with enthusiasm for anyone interested in graphic novels. The combination of the two stories works well; Tara's sweet coming of age tale mixed with rescue fantasy compliments Josey's dark and dangerous tale of superstition and doomed love. The book is aimed at readers 12 and up and I would have no problem giving this to a young adult or teen reader. I think graphic novel newcomers would also enjoy this book. It's a fine example of the form; I heard that Larson is working on the graphic adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time; I can't wait to read it, and anything else Larson does in the future.
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.