Last week I got an e-mail asking me whether I would like to review a new graphic novel. I got enthusiastic as soon as I had read the summary so I gladly accepted the offer. Will O' the Wisp was written by Tom Hammock and illustrated by Megan Hutchison. If you're interested and would like to know more about this graphic novel, do check the website.
Will O' the Wisp tells the story of Aurora Grimeon, who becomes an orphan at the age of twelve due to her parents' getting mushroom poisoning. She is then sent to live with a grandfather she doesn't know on an odd island named Ossuary Isle. The place is filled with graves and a spooky atmosphere. She soon understands that the people on the island are... well, different. The entire place breathes Hoodoo and in order to save her new-found family and friends, Aurora will need all the information she can get on its practices and traditions.
The main character, Aurora, immediately wins any darkly inclined reader's heart, and not only because of her gothy looks. Even though she is only twelve, there is no trace of naivity in her character: Aurora understands the ways of the world and is curious about its workings. Even though her situation is everything but ideal, she tries to make the best of it and to pass the time, she starts exploring the island's traditions. Aurora is extremely likeable and the reader roots for her from beginning to end. That does not mean that the other characters are less interesting. Her grandfather and many of the other inhabitants of Ossuary Isle all have their own personality, and their own whims, flaws and oddities.
Not only are the characters interesting, they are also drawn very well. The illustrations are both charming and obscure and the depiction of the island makes for a lovely gloomy vibe. The entire look of the graphic novel is beautiful, both inside and out. Admittedly, there are a couple of gruesome drawings -think corpses, skulls and more dead things- but they are not treated as gross and they fit perfectly in the obscure plot. Ossuary Isle teaches Aurora many things, and also that death is a part of life.
One of the most fascinating themes in the novel is the Hoodoo tradition of the island. The reader gets many tips and tricks throughout the story and every chapter starts with advice straight from actual Hoodoo traditions. We also get to witness how Aurora learns a lot from Mama Nonnie, the authority of Hoodoo on the island and how she puts all this information into practice.
Overall, Will O' the Wisp tells a very creative and original story. It touches on some interesting subjects, the drawing style is very appealing and every single character has an interesting tale to tell. Hopefully Aurora Grimeon has a couple more stories to tell.