Book Reviews

Review: Blackwater by Jeannette Arroyo & Ren Graham

You tell me a queer YA graphic novel and I’m always willing to read. Blackwater was going to be even more enticing to me when it’s compared to Riverdale and Stranger Things! Originally a webcomic, Blackwater is the book debut and definitely delivers those vibes. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Tony Price is a popular high school track star and occasional delinquent aching for his dad’s attention and approval. Eli Hirsch is a quiet boy with a chronic autoimmune disorder that has ravaged his health and social life. What happens when these two become unlikely friends (and a whole lot more . . .) in the spooky town of Blackwater, Maine? Werewolf curses, unsavory interactions with the quarterback of the football team, a ghostly fisherman haunting the harbor, and tons of high school drama.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: homophobia, ableism

Blackwater definitely delivers supernatural high school vibes. While I’ve never seen Riverdale or Stranger Things, they seem to be fantasy elements rooted in our contemporary world. Blackwater definitely checks both of those boxes and is a supernatural story meets mystery. I feel like there were two distinct feelings: the mystery of a fisherman and this paranormal transformation. To be honest, I very much enjoyed the fisherman ghost more – even though that one was incredibly eerie – but only because I felt like the werewolf story line could have used a bit more development.

They end up intertwining and weaving together a story about friendship and confronting our feelings. There’s this idea that we have to suppress all these feelings and anger within us. But Blackwater challenges this idea by allowing people to surprise us if we let them. While I feel like the first half was a sort of slow start, which builds up to something, I felt like the last half felt a bit rushed. So there were these threads that I felt like could have been more impactful if they had a few more pages.

Overall, I still enjoyed Blackwater because there are some important conversations about loss and emotions. The drawing style is also impressive and I thought it was cool that there’s two different styles (based on whichever artist took point). If you enjoy supernatural graphic novels and love the idea of a queer YA story, I think you should give Blackwater a try! I’m also intrigued enough to search for more from these artists and the webcomic! Find Blackwater on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Have you watched Riverdale or Stranger Things?

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