Rummanah Aasi
  Today I finished Hope Larson's latest graphic novel called Mercury. I have heard of Larson's name before as she was awarded the Eisner award in 2007 but not have read anything by her before. Mercury has received critical acclaim and lots of glowing reviews by many review journals such as Booklist and School Library Journal.

Description:  In 1859 Josey fell in love with a mysterious man named Asa Curry, who claimed to be a gold dowser. In the present, Tara Fraser, a teen who is forced to living with relatives and being once again the new girl in school after her home burns down. A necklace that reportedly has the power to find gold serves as a link between these two descendants.

Review: Larson's Mercury is a multiple genre graphic novel that contains magic realism. Set in Nova Scotia, this graphic novel connects two coming-of-age stories and shows how the past influenced the present. In alternating chapters, we meet Tara and Josey. In the present, Tara and her mother have lost their old farmhouse in a fire. Tara's mother, who is presence is restricted by phone calls, is struggling to financially support her family from far away while Tara lives with relatives. Tara loved the old house and wants to rebuild it, but her mother feels it is unrealistic and is pressured to find a job elsewhere and sell the land. In 1859, Josey, Tara's ancestor, falls in love with a gold dowser, Asa Curry, who has persuaded her father to open a mine in order to find the undiscovered and unclaimed gold.
  The stories collide as Tara retrieves the necklace, once worn by Josey, from her mother's old and unused jewelry box and goes searching for the gold said to have been hidden on her property. There are elements of supernatural powers, however, how the powers are achieved are never explained which I found disappointing. The graphic novel moves at a slow pace, taking it's time to unfold for its readers, which may deter some readers looking for a quick read but those who are hooked should be satisfied.
   I really liked Larson's storytelling. Each timeline feels and looks distinct, however, if you take a closer look you can find similar physical features of her characters, particularly of Tara's relatives. The graphic novel also portrays the history of Nova Scotia by wordless pictures in the first few panels. Despite the alternating timeline and stories, I didn't have a problem following the story. I did find myself more vested in the past than in the present, which is why I felt that the ending was a bit abrupt. Things are left dangling for Tara and her mother's future, however, I think there might be enough information to predict that the family will be financially well off.  Despite these short comings, I still enjoyed Mercury and I would recommend it for readers looking for a different type of graphic novel to read. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and some sexual comments. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: This War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks
3 Responses
  1. Sounds very interesting! What is a gold dowser? Do you know? It would seem odd for a graphic novel to move at a slow pace, but if the plot makes up for it, that's okay.

  2. Great review. This book sounds interesting. This is also the first I have heard of it :)

  3. Alison: It was a little strange, but I really liked how the past and present blended in, which is really hard to do. A gold dowser is someone who uses divination to locate materials underground like water, oil, gold, etc.

    Nic: Thanks! It appeared on several best lists for last year, which is how I found it.

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