Here I am reviewing Jane Yolen again… but it’s a graphic novel this time, and this is the first I’ve seen her doing it. Plus, it’s about fencing. I recently read another Diana Wynne Jones book, too, The Merlin Conspiracy, which I quite enjoyed, but which is on the library shelf right next to all the other Diana Wynne Jones books I’ve told you about.
Foiled by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mike Cavallaro Teen-aged Aliera doesn’t really fit in in high school, but she’s an excellent fencer, working towards nationals. She has a new foil that her mother found cheap second-hand, with a huge fake jewel attached to the hilt. She keeps herself busy with the fencing, and with weekly visits to play role-playing games with her wheel-chair bound cousin – cousin Caroline the queen, Aliera her defender. It’s fencing as metaphor for life, at first. Aliera’s fencing master tells her to guard her heart, and she finds the words echoing through her head as she falls for the same cute new guy that every other girl in school is falling for. Typical high school story so far, and it could work fine as just that. But supernatural elements start creeping in: the ravens flying outside the window at first, and then… cut for spoilers. Cavallaro’s sassy artwork is just right, mostly in grey scale with occasional splashes of color. The cover says he “illustrated”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if an established author’s first try at a graphic novel was text with illustrations that show exactly what the text says. Not so here, as there are clues to the story that only show up in the pictures, as well as clever little in-between pictures of fencing while the main pictures and the dialog are verbal sparring. Although the story ends tidily enough, there’s plenty of room for a sequel. I’m hoping. We’ve got this in teen here; there’s nothing inappropriate for younger children, though they might not appreciate the romance. And, like most of Jane Yolen’s work past the dinosaur books, there’s plenty of appeal for adults as well.