Mercury

by Hope Larson
ages: 12+
First sentence: “Hi, house.” (Though, admittedly, there are eight pages of pictures before that sentence.”)
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There are two stories going on here, both take place in a small town in Novia Scotia. One involves 16 year old Tara whose old family farm house has just burned down. Her mother is off to Alberta to look for work, and Tara is back in her old town (before they moved to the farmhouse, after her parents’ divorce) living with her aunt, uncle and cousin. She’s trying to adjust to a new life, and it doesn’t help that her mom wants to move to Edmonton.

The other story takes place 150 years ago: Josey is living in the farm house (the same one that burned down; you realize as the story unfolds that Josey and Tara are related), living her life. Her mother isn’t the most compassionate person, and her father isn’t the best farmer, but they’re making do. That is, until Asa Curry comes into their lives. He offers Josey’s father a way to get rich quick: there’s ore under the farmlands, and they can mine for gold. Things seem to be going well; Josey, at least, knows that she really likes Asa. But unfortunately, what is gold is not always good.

It’s an intriguing tale Larson is telling here, one that works well for the medium that it’s in. Sometimes I’m impressed how much can be “said” in a picture, how much one little frame can convey that would take pages and pages of prose to get across. I’m also impressed that something like magical realism, which bothers me in prose, I can accept and go with in a graphic novel. It’s a smattering of magic, something so innocuous that it shouldn’t really matter to the plot. And yet, it does.

It’s a good story as well: there’s heartache and loss and hope. My only question is wondering what Mercury has to do with the story. I missed that somehow.

That said, I’m going to be reading more of Larson’s work.

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4 thoughts on “Mercury

  1. It's been a year since I read this, so maybe i'm wrong, but i thought mercury was what that prospector guy found?

    I really enjoyed this one, even though it got a little woo-woo at the end…

    Like

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