The Daughters of Ys

First Second. Aug. 2020. 208p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781626728783.
Gr 8 Up–Anderson and Rioux team up for this graphic novel retelling of an ancient Breton folktale. Lady Malgven, a sorceress and the wife of the Wizard Duke of Wened, grants Gradlon, the King of Kerne, a powerful kingdom and children if he kills her husband and marries her. He agrees, and years later, they have two daughters, Rozenn and Dahut. Malgven’s sudden death leaves the two young girls reeling: How will they carry on her magical legacy and rule the shining seaside city of Ys? When they discover their father in flagrante delicto with two young maidens, the girls are even more wounded and set out on two different paths. Elder sister Rozenn chooses a simple life of caring for animals in the moors, while Dahut embraces her role as a magical princess and flourishes in the royal court. With Dahut’s magic, the king has grown more powerful but also more wicked: capturing slaves and looting and destroying rival cities. But when Dahut’s magical sacrifices endanger Rozenn’s happiness, the girls must face the truth that the city of Ys is fortified by evil. Anderson and Rioux have woven a lush folktale filled with magic, lust, and feminine power. Rioux’s pencil illustrations are melancholic, with dramatic shadows, glowing moonlight, and swirling seas. Her depiction of water is particularly dynamic. The cliffside scenes evoke Cézanne’s airy landscapes. Some mild nudity and sexual scenarios make this more appropriate for slightly older readers.
VERDICT A haunting rendering of an ancient folktale, packed with magic.

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