The Witch Owl Parliament (Clockwork Curandera #1)

By The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

When a book markets itself as a “steampunk reimagining of Frankenstein set in colonial Mexico,” you know you are in for an adventure. This visually stunning graphic novel delivers on all fronts, exploring the Frankenstein concept through an entirely new perspective. Cristina is an apprentice curandera (healer), and her inexperience is her downfall when she is killed by witch owls. Her brother is unable to let her go, and he’s willing to use any alchemy and science to rebuild her, even it means bending the ethical and religious rules of this fictional nineteenth-century version of Mexico. Meanwhile, Cristina is determined to help her people in the Republic of Santander, as she can see that the very core of their freedom—and maybe their lives—is at risk. Raúl the Third’s impeccable illustrations explore the darker themes with harsh lines and a stern color palette: the intricacies enrich the text and highlight key details. The creative use of panels keeps things moving, as does the action-packed text, and if the fast pace doesn’t quite allow for full character development or world building, the expected two additional graphic novels might fill those gaps. The undercurrent of loss, love, and the refusal to let someone go if you have a way to save them will certainly raise questions in readers about how they might respond, and there is plenty left unanswered here to lure them back for follow-ups. An author’s note and some original sketch work offer background on the writing and collaboration process.