The Well

First Second. Apr. 2022. 176p. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781626724143; Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781250816528.
Gr 8 Up–Shui Jing is an archipelago of monsters, magic, and mystery. In a last-ditch effort to rid the archipelago of the menacing Leviathan and its all-consuming mist, a witch, her husband, and her mother set sail for a final battle against the beast, and so the witch’s daughter, Lizzy, grows up without any of them. Lizzy lives a mundane life with her grandfather, hiding her burgeoning magic powers and selling goats’ milk to the local merchants. On a trip to the annual fair, Lizzy accidentally spends the money she needs to take the ferry back home. She takes the money from the Shui Jing wishing well, and that night, her life changes forever. The three coins she took from the well each had specific wishes attached to them. It’s up to Lizzy to fulfill those wishes before the well claims her life as payment, but she has no idea where to begin—and her journey will bring her face to face with the Leviathan itself. The Well is a triumph of a graphic novel. Wyatt’s story and dialogue are reminiscent of the beloved animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender”; Choo uses large panels, pastel colors, and lovingly rendered distance portraits to bring Lizzy’s richly detailed world to life. Lizzy’s journey is a page-turner, and while older readers might be able to see the plot twists from afar, the younger set will be blown away by the scope of the plucky heroine’s quest. The Well features numerous same-gender couples, including a romance between Lizzy and another young woman.
VERDICT A quick, immersive, and gorgeous read that’s welcome on any graphic novel shelf.

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