In this chapter-based graphic novel, Tamsin, swept out to sea when attempting to bodyboard in her home county of Cornwall, is returned to her family a month later by mysterious means. The narrative hinges on her family’s magical and historical links, their responsibilities regarding Cornwall and an ancestor’s deal with a mermaid.
As one might expect from a graphic novel published as a stand-alone narrative which has previously appeared as a serial in The Phoenix, both the art and writing are of a very high standard. The narrative offers a great deal of tension as ten-year-old Tamsin tries to save her brother from magical danger and unravel a family mystery around her missing father.
This is both a fantasy adventure and a story which deals in emotional realism and issues like love and loss. It is also very witty. The dialogue is cleverly written and has a contemporary, realistic and conversational feel. The artwork offers lovely fluid line and terrific use of colour. For example, underwater scenes offer richer, but darker colours, emphasising the attraction and danger of magic, whilst scenes on land are more pastel, so less exciting, yet safer and more secure. Speech balloons are used evocatively, and one character speaks, as it were, in coloured balloons that link with their magical heritage. The page layouts also convey meaning, and are particularly good at showing transitions between the two worlds.
The epilogue focuses on the ‘new normal’ for Tamsin and her brother, given her role as the person responsible for sorting out magical incidents across Cornwall, and sets the scene for further adventures.
A very satisfying and beautifully realised book.