Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Walker Books US (June 25, 2019)
Praise for QUEEN OF THE SEA
The art, reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s style, creates levity during perilous situations. The book is dense with dialogue, often feeling more like a work of prose than a graphic novel. As a result, this complex work will be more accessible to those familiar with graphic novels…Certain to charm sophisticated graphic novel devotees. —School Library Journal (starred review)
Meconis offers an atmospheric alternate history inspired by the childhood and succession of Queen Elizabeth I in this quietly ambitious graphic novel…Art in soft, earthy colors brings this singular story to life in styles ranging from simple line drawings to elaborately styled text illuminations. The island world is richly developed, both in its physical particulars and its close-knit community (fascinating digressions into topics such as convent time, hand gestures used at table, and chess and embroidery flesh out daily life), and Margaret proves herself an endearing heroine with a strong voice full of humor and wonder. Her perspective transforms a storm-wracked rock into a vibrant world of hidden treasures. —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Meconis’ humor and storytelling gifts here wed seamlessly with her evocative pen-and-ink and gouache illustrations, which are rendered in warm earth and sea tones and brim with movement, expressively capturing even Margaret’s interior monologues. With its compelling, complex characters and intrigue-laden plot, this will have readers hoping it’s only the first of many adventures for Meconis’ savvy heroine. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Weaving faith, love, statecraft, and self-discovery into a tale of palace intrigue relocated to the halls of a convent on a remote island at sea, Dylan Meconis uses the trappings of the history we know to create a high-stakes adventure in an alternate past that feels so detailed and so familiar, you’ll find yourself wondering why you never read about it in school. This beautiful book swept me away from the first page.” —Kate Milford, author of the Greenglass House series
“Dylan Meconis is at the absolute top of her game. A gorgeously rendered, lovingly realized alternate history, full of personal revelations in the midst of political intrigue. A tale of growing up, and of understanding that the world is larger and stranger than it once seemed. (Plus it has a Terrible Recipe for Terrible Gruel.)” —Ben Hatke, author-illustrator of the Zita the Spacegirl series
“This is the book I was always trying to get my hands on in high school that never seemed to materialize. An adventure to lose yourself in, with an attention to historical detail to please the nerdiest among us. I fell easily and completely into this world and its characters, knowing I was safe in Dylan Meconis’s hands, and I’m really excited for more people to find out what I’ve known for a long time—that she is one of a kind.” —Kate Beaton, author-illustrator of Hark! A Vagrant
Cult graphic novelist Dylan Meconis offers a rich reimagining of history in this hybrid novel loosely based on the exile of Queen Elizabeth I by her sister, Queen Mary.
When her sister seizes the throne, Queen Eleanor of Albion is banished to a tiny island off the coast of her kingdom, where the nuns of the convent spend their days peacefully praying, sewing, and gardening. But the island is also home to Margaret, a mysterious young orphan girl whose life is upturned when the cold, regal stranger arrives. As Margaret grows closer to Eleanor, she grapples with the revelation of the island’s sinister true purpose as well as the truth of her own past. When Eleanor’s life is threatened, Margaret is faced with a perilous choice between helping Eleanor and protecting herself.
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Margaret has lived on an island with nuns and servants her entire life. The nuns are of the Elysian order, and their job is to pray for the sailors that sail on the waters near their island. They also take in those that need shelter who come to the island, and help those who are washed ashore from a shipwreck. Margaret knows that she couldn’t have been born on the island, but none of the nuns are willing to tell her where she came from. She was also the only kid on the island, at least until William came. This book tells the story of her adventures on this island as she learns about her family, true family, and friendship.
I love graphic novels, but I have never read a historical fiction graphic novel. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but this book completely blew me away. Margaret was such a lively character, she reminded me of the girls that I grew up reading in the classic novels at the library like Pippi Longstocking and A Little Princess. She was full of life and lit up the rooms she was in, even on an island full of nuns and servants. She was imaginative, but she wanted to grow up to be a nun so she could help people. She never even thought of life off the island until more people from the mainland started coming to the island, but then she couldn’t stop thinking about it. Even when she thought about mainland life, she didn’t start to rebel against the people who had raised her. Which I took as a breath of fresh air. Not all preteen/teenaged girls are crazy and rebellious, some really enjoy their lives like Margaret did. You can be imaginative without trying to run away every 2 seconds.
This had to be one of the most fun yet even still historically accurate graphic novels I’ve read yet. I learned small things about living on an island full of nuns in the 16th century as I read about Margaret’s life there as an outsider. There were traditions that these nuns upheld, stories that these nuns told, that I had never even heard about as a non-Catholic Christian. Even so, the book wasn’t so forcibly religious that a non-Christian person would feel uncomfortable reading it. The historic religious events were woven in with brilliant storytelling and beautiful pictures.
I read this entire book in about 2-3 hours, while on buses and trains commuting to and from NYC. This book was so addictive that it took me out of that uncomfortable and annoying commute and made me think about a completely new world while I was reading it. I can say that I definitely have not had that experience while reading a graphic novel before.
I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a new historical fiction book or a new graphic novel to enjoy. I cannot wait to read more by this author!
I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books.
Photo Content from Dylan Meconis
I’ve been writing and illustrating my own stories since the first grade, and I’ve been making comic books since middle school (no, really! Seventh grade was a tough year for me socially, so I had a lot of time to draw). I started my first book-length comic (graphic novel) in high school.
Unlike a lot of people who become professional artists and authors, I didn’t go to art school or a creative writing program in college. Instead, I mostly studied history, literature, philosophy, and French in the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. This means I have a brain full of weird facts, old books, strange art, and the extremely useful ability to read The Tales of Canterbury in the original Middle English. Except for the Middle English bit, it’s all come in very handy for writing and drawing historical fiction and fantasy.
I first started to get paid for making comics when I was still in college, when my first graphic novel was published online. After college, I worked as a graphic designer and visual communications consultant (which means “person who helps teach adults complicated stuff in cool new ways using pictures”). I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies, global charities, technology companies, libraries, and a lot of other interesting organizations. I’ve made illustrations, animations, information graphics and cool presentations, explaining everything from how microchips work to the ways that clean drinking water can help communities in the third world.
For the last ten years, though, I mostly work as a writer, comic book creator and illustrator! Sometimes I make books totally by myself, and sometimes I get to team up with other writers or artists. It can be lots of fun, but it can also be very hard work. Luckily, I never get tired of making new stories.
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