Graphic Universe. May 2021. 184p. Tr $33.32. ISBN 9781541581197; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781728412900.
Gr 7 Up–Life for Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë seems uncomplicated from the outside: three women who are often at home, adhering to society’s standards of meek temperance. Their neighbors would never guess that the sisters’ razor-sharp minds were churning with enough tempestuous stories and poetry to scandalize England for decades to come. Cleverly adopting masculine pen names, each sister makes a (false) name for herself as growing notoriety for their literary masterpieces ricochets across every drawing room in the country. Their bravery is borne of desperation as their ailing father grows sicklier by the day, threatening the Brontë family’s tenuous hold on financial survival. Even as Charlotte, Emily, and Anne struggle to keep the family afloat, their only brother, Branwell, a failed poet, flits between gambling halls and opium dens, setting himself up for a dismal fate. Throughout countless personal tragedies, the Brontë sisters create some of English literature’s greatest romantic novels: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. In this graphic novel based on the lives of the Brontës, Santoni uses starkly black lines and white space to evokes the blustery moors of Haworth that become the backdrop of many of the Brontës’ stories. Each character is drawn to echo their personality; Branwell is dark, drooping, and weak—a noticeable foil to the straight-backed, determined, and piercing sisters. There is visible energy in Santoni’s art, conveying each changing mood.
VERDICT An enjoyable peek into the Brontë sisters’ origin stories, an excellent choice for libraries seeking dynamic graphic novels spotlighting literary figures.

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