I love M.T. Anderson and First Second books. However, there was something “off” about this graphic novel by Anderson, The Daughters of Ys. I am not sure if it was because I had such high hopes, or if the story was not organized, or that it was a folktale that I was unfamiliar with, but there were holes in it for me.
I do like the idea of this folktale. The start of the tale is a flashback. There is a king who almost did not survive a battle. In fact, none of his men did. And is a beautiful woman who saves him and asks him to help her kill her husband, a wizard. He obliges, she convinces him to marry her, and as a reward, she builds him a new capital city (Ys) more amazing than anything one could imagine. We then come to now, the day of the Queen’s funeral. Here we see a bereaved king and their two daughters: Rozenn, the heir to the throne and Dahut, the youngest, who enjoys the privileges of the court. But there are secrets no one wishes to even whisper; the sisters drift apart and there is lust, betrayal and dark magic. There is a bit of religion as well. This Breton folklore is dark, beautiful and something else altogether.
And while there is a conclusion that is not open ended, I still had questions that were not answered. The biggest being, was there a moral to the story? I took a few for myself, but not sure if they were the “right” ones. Everyone who reads this will read a different story depending on your mood, bias and background to folktales, graphic novels and even, Anderson.
You also will bring into play your feelings on Jo Rioux’s illustrations. Light and dark colors and shadows dance around the page. And due to how much detail is on the page and how much is realistic looking or surreal looking will color your thoughts and feelings; even enjoyment of the story. And note, the color red pays a role that makes it almost a character in itself.
Because of fantasy violence, action and sexual situations I do not recommend for the young reader; but for least 14 and up.