Mooncakes (Wendy Xu, Suzanne Walker)

Mooncakes is a comic written by Suzanne Walker and illustrated by Wendy Xu.
Finished on: 8.7.2021

Apprentice witch Nova lives with her two grandmothers, and works with them in their magic supply store. Out in the woods one night, Nova stumbles upon her childhood friend Tam in their wolf form. Tam, who left town many years before and only just returned, is battling a horse demon. Together, Tam and Nova manage to scare it away, but of course, neither of them can let the demon roam free. As they figure out what to do about the demon, they also need to figure out their relationship with each other.

Mooncakes is a supercute, magical, queer story about a witch and a werewolf. And if that isn’t enough for you, let me also say that it’s really good.

The book cover, showing Nova and Tam standing back to back. Nova is holding a steaming plate of cookies, her hand hovering over it as if performing magic. Tam is tasting dough from a bowl they're holding.

Mooncakes is just such a soft, sweet book. I mean, bad things happen, the horse demon is pretty creepy and stuff, but the focus lay definitely more on the softer things: the romance between Tam and Nova who seem to continue right where they left off without much hesitancy, Nova’s caring family, the quiet life she leads that she may have ot be shaken out of.

The story itself is rather simple, I’d say, but there are so many wonderful details here that this simplicity is an absolute bonus as you can really explore the details. That starts with the magical stuff going on (Nova’s family reunion alone is quite something), but continues with the illustrations that offer so many lovely small things in the background to find. Generally, I really loved Xu’s style (the forest spirits were amazing, but they were not the only thing).

A page from the comic, showing Tam and Nova going into her room. Nova puts her cloak in the closet, then grabs some magic utensils to heal Tam's black eye. The last panel shows them holding hands, with Nova asking whether Tam wants to tell her what's going on.

In addition to that, the book is so easily diverse that it’s just great. Tam is non-binary, Nova is hard of hearing (her hearing aid is a natural part of her routines), they are both Chinese-American, Nova’s grandmothers are a couple. That range never feels tacked on, it’s just how the world is.

The biggest fault I found in Mooncakes is that it’s just too damn short. I read it too quickly. I guess I’ll have to read it again.

Summarizing: just wonderful.

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