Reposting to include Brad’s new review.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy XuMooncakes by Suzanne Walker (writer), Wendy Xu (illustrator), & Joamette Gil (letterer)

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy XuMooncakes (2019) is the story of Nova and Tam, two young people who are exploring their connections to magic. They are both, in their own way, deeply connected to the magical world and must decide what that means to them. Their relationships — with the people around them and each other — fuel the emotional core of this whimsical, down-to-earth, LGBTQ+ narrative.

I was delighted by Mooncakes. First, Wendy Xu’s art is spot-on for the tone of the story — in some ways it is cute and colourful, but there are some hard, emotional moments and magic-fueled fights that don’t feel out of place in the chosen style. The characters are designed uniquely, and the strength of those designs support their distinct personalities. Mooncakes has a wonderful cast of characters, in the most literal sense: full of wonder. Even characters who only appear for a few pages leave a meaningful impression on the story.

The core strength of the story is in the inter-personal relationships of the characters. In a lot of ways, Mooncakes is a quiet narrative — Suzanne Walker talks about and explores family, childhood crushes, small-town living, and more internal struggles like anxiety (both in the worrying sense and in the mental health sense). All these aspects are informed by and directly related to LGBTQ+ people. One of the two main characters is being raised by her two married grandmothers and the other main character is non-binary. To its foundation, this is an LGBTQ+ story.

Mooncakes is the kind of story I wish I had when I was fifteen, but I’m still happy to have it now. It’s the kind of beautiful, normalizing story the LGBTQ+ community deserves — and it’s fun, adventurous, and engaging as well. It takes teen witches and werewolves to new places in fresh ways, while balancing those magical aspects against heart-felt themes.

If you’re looking for something with a whole lot of heart, great characters, and an interesting small-town magical adventure plot, then you need to pick up Mooncakes.

~Skye Walker

Well, Mooncakes is likely to ruffle feathers because it is a love story between two girls, one a witch and one a werewolf, and the werewolf prefers the pronoun “they” when in human form. And the witch is raised by two women in a relationship. But, it is also a cute story about magic, adversity, family, and belonging. It has solid art by Wendy Xu, and it is a fun read, even if it has a storyline that is not exactly full of surprises: The woman who is a suspicious neighbor really is the antagonist, and the good witches triumph in the end without much adversity.

The story starts off with our being introduced to Nova and her two grandparents raising her. They run a magic shop, and we find out that Nova has stayed at home when she could have gone off into the world like most witches her age. But she works in the shop, and when we first meet her, she is helping a customer find a book on witchcraft in the rare books section of the story, a back room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and flying tomes. Nova, we find out, often goes into the neighborhood to take care of problems requiring magic, so she is competent with magic already when we meet her.

When she first goes into the woods, she runs into a werewolf who turns out to be her childhood crush, Tam. Tam has run away from home because her stepfather has evil intentions having to do with her being a werewolf. She moves in with Nova, and the two start trying to solve Tam’s problem, specifically a demonic power in the woods. They do research, and with the help of Nova’s grandparents, contain the evil fairly easily, almost as if it is just a routine spell. They encounter the evil neighbor, Tam wrongly tries to solve her problem alone, and a rescue is then required by all the good witches and creatures of the forest in a dramatic scene. There is nothing really to spoil by way of plot here. It is fairly predictable. But, I liked it anyway. It is a light, fun story.

I think the romance aspect is just as prominent as the story about magic. They get equal emphasis, because both are clearly important to the author, Suzanne Walker. Tam and Nova learn to express their feelings for each other, become brave enough to hold hands and kiss, and in the end, they are finally able to say, “I love you.” It is a cute love story. It will bother only those who object to same-sex love relationships. The rest of us will find it simply endearing.

The art by Wendy Xu, I think, really makes the story work well. The characters are well-defined, and the action scenes are exciting. The creatures in the forest are varied and creatively imagined. There is even some flying around on broomsticks! For me, this YA graphic novel is a solid four stars. I cannot give it a full five stars because the plot is so predictable, but it is a fun, magical love story, and who doesn’t enjoy a book like that?

~Brad Hawley

Published in 2019. A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft. Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any townhome. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.


  • Skye Walker

    SKYE WALKER, who has been on FanLit’s staff since September 2014 (after a brief time on staff as a YA reviewer in 2007-2008), is from Canada. Their HBA in Anthropology and Communications allowed them to write an Honours paper on podcasting as the modern oral tradition of storytelling: something they will talk about at any and all opportunities. Skye is a communications professional in the non-profit sector. These days their favourite authors include Ursula K Le Guin, Bo Bolander, and Chris Wooding. They can be found on social media @tskyewalker

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  • Brad Hawley

    BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

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