Lady of the Shard by Gigi D.G. [webcomic review]

Lady of the Shard by Gigi D. G.

Lady of the Shard
by Gigi D. G.
Published: May 14 2016
Genre: fantasy, romance
Pages: n/a
Source: webcomic’s website

Lady of the Shard is a comic about an acolyte in love with the goddess she serves.

read this comic online

Lady of the Shard is an LGBTQIA+ fantasy webcomic told with pixel art and a limited palette of colors that is striking, to say the least. Its ‘pages’ are long and require vertical scrolling to read instead of being displayed as blocky, book-sized ‘pages’ that fit on a single screen without scrolling, as many webcomics do to be formatted like traditional comics. I found it formatted more closely to webtoons than most webcomics. Due to its long, vertical nature, my best reading experience was on a tablet with a large(r) screen, so I could read the text easily and use a more natural-feeling swipe to read the long ‘pages’ instead of scrolling with a mouse.

This comic is what finally pulled me out of my months-long reading slump (and subsequent lack of blog posts) that I experienced earlier this year. I read this back in early July and I still think about it often. The romance is very well done (albeit a bit silly at times, due to the nature of the characters) and as someone who generally shies from romance in fiction, that takes a lot for me to say. The artwork flows in a natural way, with the palette shifting to evoke certain emotions and it does it so well.

It’s cute and beautiful and has ladies who love ladies and I’m just so happy it exists. Even with the simple pixel art that is often only outlines and the limited palette Lady of the Shard has a world and characters that feel real and whole. They breathe on the screen.

My recommendation is to read this now. Lady of the Shard is a heartwarming, spectacular work of art. It’s free to read online (gigidigi.itch.io/lady), with the option to donate to the person who created it (which I encourage). Just take note of the content warning on the first page.

Rating: ★★★★★

What is your favorite webcomic? Please do share in the comments, I’m always interested in finding more gems like this!

Follow me: Twitter | GoodReads | Bloglovin | Instagram

Save

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

 River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1) by Sarah Gailey

River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1)
by Sarah Gailey
Published: May 23rd 2017 by Tor.com
Genre: western, historical fiction, alternate history, fantasy
Pages: 152p
Source: purchased (ebook)

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

 

Add to GoodReads

River of Teeth is so far beyond what I expected that I’m not sure if I will ever be able to describe how tickled I was by this novella. There are hippos (which are terrifying, if you don’t know anything about them), their hippo-riding cowboys, a pregnant hippo-riding cowgirl, romance, murder, queer characters, people of color, knives, a gangster creep, and so much more. It’s a tense heisty crew western slice of wonderful with a side of romance.

I will admit, I judged a book by its cover. Well, its genre, because that cover is cool as hell. (Hippos!) Westerns and I… have not ever really gotten along. Had this not featured hippos nor sent me down a four-hour-long Wikipedia rabbit hole looking up “Did the federal government actually want to farm hippos? HIPPOS? Murdery water-cows?” I probably would’ve given this a hard pass. Mistake!

Due to my preemptive judgement, when I opened this ebook I was not expecting LGBTQIA+ rep because, well, unless I’ve actively sought out something that I know has queer characters, I am just prepared to be disappointed. I was not anticipating the main cast to include a nonbinary POC who is the love interest of the queer main character. (I read Houndstooth as bisexual but, as no labels are explicitly used in the text and my Googling hasn’t brought anything up, it is entirely possible that he is pansexual or another flavor of queer entirely.) It is always a delight to see marginalized characters existing and being happy. No racism, no sexism, no anti-queerness on these pages. It feeds my soul to have stories where we simply exist, where we are of no special note at all. Just a diverse group of morally questionable hippo cowboys having a caper in the bayou.

And what a caper it is.

The premise is fascinating, the plot is solid – well, there were a couple wobbles but I was too in love with this to care – and the romance is good. It has dark moments, some gory scenes, but it’s a western and one does expect some murder. Though this is a slim read at only 152 pages, it doesn’t feel rushed. It’s very satisfying to pick up and finish in just a couple of hours, to be fully enveloped in the world Gailey has crafted with such care. Its size is its strength, in my opinion. There are some dark and troubling moments*, and a scene in which I almost threw my Kindle against a wall, but if you ride it out until the end the depressing stuff resolves and doesn’t have time to grab hold that it would were this a 600 page monstrosity that takes half a day of doing nothing else to read. In such stressful times, it’s nice to ingest a story whole without worrying about the characters I love while life does its best at getting in the way.

I love this book to pieces, and I cannot wait to see where Houndstooth and the gang wind up in the second half of this duology next month.

* A spoiler for those who may be sensitive to possible death of queer characters: No Heros were mortally harmed in the making of this book. Don’t worry!

Rating: ★★★★★

Follow me: Twitter | GoodReads | Bloglovin | Instagram

Save

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill

The Tea Dragon Society
by Katie O’Neill
Published: October 31 2017 by Oni Press
Genre: graphic novel, fantasy
Pages: 72p
Source: review copy provided via NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

Add to GoodReads

Truly gorgeous, both in illustration and in text, which comes as no surprise if you have read any of the author’s other works (Princess Princess is wonderful!). For as short as this graphic novel is, the story is deep and full. Definitely deserving of a sequel or two… or three. This is a beautiful book I would love to have on my shelves, and certainly one that can stand up to rereading. My only wish is that it were just a few pages longer – the illustrations are just so captivating!

The addition of Extracts from the Tea Dragon Handbook is an excellent touch. Learning the quirks of different breeds of tea dragon as well as tips for their care made me nostalgic for the Dragonology Handbook and similar fiction books written as nonfiction guides that I adored when I was a kid. Coupled with clear rep for characters with different skin tones, disabilities, and sexualities, this just knocked it straight out of the park for me.

Soft, exquisite fantasy at its finest.

Follow me: TwitterGoodReads | Bloglovin | Instagram