Review of Queen of the Sea, by Dylan Meconis

Queen of the Sea

by Dylan Meconis

Walker Books (Candlewick), 2019. 394 pages.
Starred Review
Review written August 20, 2019, from a library book

Queen of the Sea is a beautifully drawn graphic novel about Margaret, a girl who grows up on an island off the coast of Albion, who doesn’t know who her parents were. The only other people on the island are nuns of the Elysian order, sworn to help sailors and their families.

When Margaret prays for a friend her age, a noble lady comes to the island with her son. They are in exile after their family defied the king. Margaret and this boy grow up together, become friends – for a time. But the next new resident of the island is the deposed queen of Albion, and Margaret gets drawn into political plottings. She’s only an orphan girl, but can her actions on a distant island affect the throne?

The story is not actually based on truth, though it seems so close to royal intrigue of Elizabethan times that I wondered if it was. I like the way the author uses a different style of art for tales told by the nuns. This is a gripping but also heart-warming story with beautiful art. And after last year being on the Newbery committee, I can’t help but think that here’s a graphic novel that will be a solid contender. The story itself is solid enough, and the illustrations definitely don’t detract. Because it’s a graphic novel, this can be read quickly, but it’s a tale with some weight.

Royal intrigue, mysterious origins, an isolated island setting, and rich historical details are all to be found in this lovely graphic novel.

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