The War at Ellsmere, by Faith Erin Hicks


Publisher: SLG Publishing
Genre: Graphic novel, YA
Call number: J Hicks

Juniper is a scholarship student at the posh, academically rigorous boarding school, Ellsmere Academy. She already knows she isn’t going to fit in when she sees her incredibly fancy dorm room and thinks, “Apparently I’m going to school in a Disneyland postcard.” She has a smart mouth and a whole lotta attitude, which helps her when she incurs the wrath of Emily, a rich, snobbish but equally clever student. Of course, her smart mouth is also what gets her into trouble with Emily in the first place. Luckily, she makes friends with her roommate Cassie, who is sweet-natured and a little kooky; she often mentions things like alien abductions, and she’s the one who tells Jun all the crazy stories about the school’s mysterious history and the creature said to roam the nearby woods punishing evil. (This story turns out to be somewhat true.)

This graphic novels melds a lot of great elements: there’s the “misfit at boarding school” story, the developing friendship between Cassie and Jun, the rivalry between Emily and Jun, and the weird hints of magic on the school grounds. The dialog is snappy and realistic and the characters are real — even Emily, who could develop “stock-evil-rich-girl” syndrome but somehow doesn’t. (Maybe because she’s so cunning in her evil plans.) Juniper makes for a great heroine — she’s smart, determined, and sarcastic, always a great combo. Finally, the black and white art is fantastic. It’s quirky and offbeat, like the characters and the story, but not so much that it gets really cartoony.

I haven’t read anything by Faith Erin Hicks before, but she has other graphic novels out, including one called Zombies Calling that is about a group of teens that have to fight off zombies with only the rules of zombie horror movies to help them survive. Sounds fantastic.