Title: The Well
Creators: Jake Wyatt, Choo (Illustrations)
Genres: Comics, fantasy
Publisher: First Second
Review copy: Library
Availability: Available now!
Summary: A fantasy graphic novel about Lizzy, a girl who gets cursed by a wishing well, and her adventure to grant three wishes in order to break free.
Li-Zhen’s life on the archipelago is simple. Known to friends and family as Lizzy, she takes care of her grandfather and their goats, she flirts with the woman who helps row the ferry, and she stays away from the fog that comes in the night—and the monsters hiding within it. But Lizzy’s life comes apart when she steals a handful of coins from a sacred well to cover a debt. The well requires repayment, but it doesn’t deal in coins. It needs wishes, and its minions will drown Lizzy in its depths if she doesn’t grant them. Lizzy finds herself on a quest to uncover hidden memories, bestow great wealth, and face the magical secrets that nearly destroyed her family—and are now returning to threaten everything she has ever known.
In this breathtaking graphic novel, Jake Wyatt and Choo have created a modern fable based on magic and family secrets, exploring the power—and limits—of wishes.
Review: I love fantasy stories, and I’ve often found myself delighted by fantasy graphic novels like Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries, among others. I went into The Well without knowing much of anything about it, under then that it was possibly a fantasy story (judging by the cover) and that the illustrator was Choo, an artist whose haunting work I’ve long admired on Twitter.
The Well is a thoughtful, haunting read with stunning art by Choo. I have to spend a bit of time talking about the art because Choo’s art is so gorgeous and atmospheric. It sets the scene beautifully, gives you a sense of the world that you’re in, and is just so visually rich. The terrifying monsters and moments of eerie unease hint at Choo’s distinctive style that I’ve seen online. I’d recommend checking out this graphic novel for the art alone.
The story is an intriguing one that keeps you turning the page. There’s just a hint of romance, plenty of magic, and an interesting approach to the classic “three wishes” types of stories that you might be familiar with. The graphic novel’s description says that “Jake Wyatt and Choo have created a modern fable” and that sounds about right — it’s a fable, from the twists, to the occasionally sparse storytelling. I finished the graphic novel wishing for more to the story, a clearer sense of what the story was saying, and so on — but as with fables, sometimes those questions are left to the reader to chew on. What is, just is.
Not to be a broken record about this, but I’d recommend checking out The Well if you’re looking for a gorgeous, atmospheric read with a hint of queer romance. Choo’s art is the standout part of this graphic novel, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of what Choo does.
Recommendation: Get it soon!