(image 100% stolen from internet)
The Tea Dragon Society Vo1 is by the author of the Aquacorn book I recently read and reviewed. And this book is filled with contradictions for me. First, I do not think I would have gone onto the Aquacorn book had I read about the Tea Dragons first. There is a lot to love, but it is not as strong as her later book. However, at the same time it is better. Second, I rate this a four, but it is really a 4.5 as I wanted more. And it is oddly long to start with. I guess what I wanted was more action. There is a lot of tell, but not a lot of traditional action. Finally, with that said, the art is both bizarre and amazingly gorgeous.
But here is where I run into a few issues. The text feels as if it is started in the middle of the story. It feels as if it is translated from an area where English is not the first language and perhaps not the first language of the author. Not to say anything is wrong with that, but my experience with translations is sometimes the flow of the story is a little choppy for my American “ear-eyes.”
Who are these characters? Why do they have horns and are dragons? Why is it hard for someone to be a great blacksmith even with goblin blood? What is this world all about? As you go along some of these questions are answered, others not, and more are given. People are “just who they are” and there is “no big deal” because of their race, gender, abilities or sexuality. And while nothing “bad” happens, there are moments intense moments when you wonder if the characters will be “okay” and get out of the situation they find themselves in. It is a cozy story, but a physically hard book to read. The oversized picture book made finding a comfy spot to read harder than usual.
Yet, this graphic novel has a lot going on and worth the effort. You learn about the magic of tea dragons, love, family and values. And while there is closure to the story itself, there is an openness that makes a sequel possible. In fact, Katie O’Neill created two sequels, The Tea Dragon Festival (which might answer a few questions as it is seems to be a prequel to Tea Dragon Society) and in November The Tea Dragon Tapestry (which is the official sequel).
Though aimed at kids, it has adult concepts, too.