The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor

Margaret K. McElderry Bks/S. & S./. Jul. 2021. 224p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781534460874; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781534460867.
Gr 9 Up–A teen is caught in a “gasket universe” in this blend of science fiction and period drama. Haley is obsessed with gothic romance—her classmates refer to her as “extra-nerdy goth,” and she’s written countless essays on Wuthering Heights. One day, as she walks home in the rain with a stack of books, she sees a cute guy floundering in the river below and dives off a bridge to save him. She drags him toward a manor in the distance. Unbeknownst to Haley, her travels have taken her to another universe. At first, she feels as though she’s living out her gothic fantasies. But cracks in this world reveal that things aren’t what they seem, exposing an existential threat not only to the manor’s universe but also to the one Haley calls home. Can she be the gothic heroine the story needs? Webcomics creators Garrity (Skin Horse) and Baldwin (Little Dee) team up for their first original graphic novel. Baldwin’s moody, full-color cartoon art is cinematic in its layout, including a few inventive panel overlays. While the majority of characters are light-skinned, Haley is Black. Garrity’s witty writing is loving, genre-bending parody, and Haley’s commentary about gothic tropes, fashion, and architecture will amuse readers regardless of their background knowledge.
VERDICT Brontë lovers and sci-fi fans alike will find common ground in this delightfully bizarre romp into the multiverse.

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