Wingbearer by Marjorie M. Liu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a middle-grade graphic novel with some cute characters and bright lovely artwork (done on Adobe Photoshop, reportedly). It's the story of a human girl, Zuli, raised in the Tree where the souls of birds return to be reborn, and what happens when an unknown outside enemy blocks bird souls from doing so. Zuli leaves on a quest to solve the mystery and save her bird friends, accompanied by her talking owl, Frowly.
I have several of Marjorie Liu's books, including the Hunter Kiss urban fantasy series (which I wish she would return to, though she seems to have wrapped it up) and the Monstress graphic novel series (which is incredibly dark and definitely for adults). This book falls somewhere in between, with its simpler storyline, straightforward worldbuilding, and less complicated characters, as befits its intended audience. That isn't to say adults can't find something to interest them in this story, especially as it progresses and the mystery of who and what Zuli really is deepens.
As befits its name, almost all the characters in this book are winged creatures of some kind. There are griffins, dragons, "fyrefoxes" (a winged snake), harpies and manticores. Even the second main character, Orien, is a winged goblin. There are abandoned cities and an ancient people called the Siric who vanished a thousand years before. The antagonist, the unseen (at least until the end) Witch Queen, is hunting Zuli and her companions for her own ends. The only knock against this book is its cliffhanger ending, although to be fair it was set up from the beginning (as I realized when I went back and reread the first few pages). Anyone who wants a more complex story and characters might find this a bit lacking, but I think it's a delightful little story and a good fit for its age group.
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