As a fan of Mooncakes, I knew I had to read Tidesong. If you love Xu’s drawing style with swirling lines, gorgeous pastel color schemes, and fantastic character profiles, you have to read this one. Tidesong is also about envy and family. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Sophie is a young witch whose mother and grandmother pressure her to attend the Royal Magic Academy—the best magic school in the realm—even though her magic is shaky at best. To train for her entrance exams, Sophie is sent to relatives she’s never met.
Cousin Sage and Great-Aunt Lan seem more interested in giving Sophie chores than in teaching her magic. Frustrated, Sophie attempts magic on her own, but the spell goes wrong, and she accidentally entangles her magic with the magic of a young water dragon named Lir.
Lir is trapped on land and can’t remember where he came from. Even so, he’s everything Sophie isn’t—beloved by Sophie’s family and skilled at magic. With his help, Sophie might just ace her entrance exams, but that means standing in the way of Lir’s attempts to regain his memories. Sophie knows what she’s doing is wrong, but without Lir’s help, can she prove herself?
Immediately I was entranced by the illustration style. It reminds me so much of some art from Ghibli and is a must read if you love that style. Combined with gorgeous color work and really unique and memorable characters, the magic in this style is stunning. While I’m sure Xu could draw a phenomenal contemporary graphic novel, there’s something about the line work that lends itself to fantasy. At the heart of Tidesong is the way we always think we can handle more than we can.
When we are convinced we’re all grown up. However Sophie’s story is one of family and mistakes. Of letting the past and our guilt twist our present. Sophie feels like she’s trying to live up to the pressure she puts on herself to be powerful now. To feel like everything is happening right now. How can anyone live under the weight of our own harsh standards? We can be so determined not to bend under pressure, when all we need is a little flexibility.
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Tidesong is so relatable. It’s about when our decisions run away from us. How we don’t need to take the path everyone else goes on, or the way we think we have to go. It’s also about honesty not only to apologize, but to also recognize the mistakes of our past infiltrating our future. This is a must read for middle grade fantasy lovers figuring out how to accept help. Find Tidesong on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.