Title: The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor
Writer: Shaenon K. Garrity
Illustrator: Christopher Baldwin
Genre: Humor / Gothic / Sci-Fi
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Graphic Novel (eARC)
Length: 224 pages
Publisher: McElderry Books
Release Date: July 20, 2021
Recommended for fans of: classic Gothic romance novels, satire
Nimona meets Paper Girls with a literary twist in this wickedly funny graphic novel about a teenager who is swept up in a strange new universe and must save it from an all-consuming evil in order to return home.
One dark and stormy night, Haley sees a stranger drowning in the river. Since her greatest passion is Gothic romance novels, she knows her moment has come. But when Haley leaps into the water to rescue the stranger, she awakens in Willowweep. It certainly looks like the setting of one of her favorite books: A stately manor. A sinister housekeeper. Three brooding brothers. There’s even a ghost.
Except Willowweep is not what it seems. Its romantic exterior hides the workings of a pocket universe—the only protection our world has against a great force of penultimate evil, and its defenses are crumbling. Could cruel fate make Haley the heroine that Willowweep needs?
This YA graphic novel was very humorous and enjoyable. Haley, a high school student obsessed with classic Gothic romance novels, finds herself transported to a world that resembles her favorite books after saving a stranger from drowning in a river. I do think that readers need to be familiar with novels like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre in order to fully appreciate the satire and jokes in the story.
I wish the plot was a bit more tight and focused. In addition to playing with Gothic tropes, the story also includes a sci-fi element with pocket universes and threats from another dimension. These different elements did not always come together cohesively. While many of the jokes had me laughing out loud, sometimes these humorous or melodramatic moments interrupted the pacing of the story.
I enjoyed this story and it kept me laughing from beginning to end, but I was left with a lot of questions about the internal logic of this story.
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the eARC.