Wednesday 28 August 2019

Review Time! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - Watersnakes by Tony Sandoval

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Watersnakes title graphic, with a sword shape underlining the word

Title: Watersnakes

Author: Tony Sandoval

Watersnakes book cover showing girls in armour and holding swords
Graphic Novel, Fantasy*, Young Adult, Magic Realism, LGBTQ+ (F/F), Horror*, Ghost Story* (*ish) 

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A few starting notes:

I received a digital review copy of this book via NetGalley, as an opportunity to review said book.

Then my digital copy expired -

(fun fact: review copies are often set to self-destruct, which I always consider a total spy-movie moment)

- and I borrowed a different sort of digital copy from my library’s graphic novel service.

None of this affects the fact that this is a fair and honest review.

I’d previously read and reviewed Rendez-Vous In Phoenix by Tony Sandoval.

That book was a personal graphic memoir about the author’s trip into the US from Mexico which I highly recommend, especially in the current political climate 👍

Related: Review Time! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - Rendez-Vous In Phoenix by Tony Sandoval

Tony Sandoval is a Latinx graphic novelist. #SupportDiverseCreators.

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The Premise:

Mila and her family just moved to a seaside town, where Mila meets Agnes – a beautiful girl who likes to wear animal masks, and has magical teeth.

Her teeth are sentient teenage girls, and sometimes leave her head.

There’s also the talking octopus-king situation.

And things just get weirder from there…

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The Best Bits:

The artwork here is amazing.

Like, wow, wow, wow, WOW! It’s beautiful

I also love the way the page layout and the panels are arranged. 

Everything is done with a level of care and forethought that you’ve gotta admire. 

I adore the random surrealness of this graphic novel.

Like, wtaf is this book?! I don’t know, you don’t know, none of us know! ...And I kind of love that.

The twists were definitely unexpected.

And to be honest, I’m still trying to understand and/or come to terms with some of them!

It’s also kind of difficult to talk about this book without getting too spoiler-y, but honestly I love it.

As far as the F/F goes, in my opinion it’s handled well (and is also kinda goddamn awkwardly adorable and adorably awkward!)

There is a surreal complication or two to the rep. of the relationship, but I personally don’t think it fundamentally changed the F/F aspect.

It was Agnes that Mila was physically attracted to and who she, imho, was falling in love with.

Yes, in the course of the book she does have attraction to a male character, sort of -

 (in a conglomeration of weird af plot points that is impossible to explain both quickly and clearly,)

-  but I don’t think it alters what she feels for Agnes. 

Mila’s still trying to figure out her own identity and doesn’t use labels at any point in the book 

– and after all, you can be a Queer girl without being exclusively attracted to women all the time!

In fact, I manage to be a Queer girl while sometimes being exclusively attracted to dudes – life, sexuality, and also gender, are all complicated my dearest nerdlets.

I love the general atmosphere of this book 

– it’s like a scoop of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince* meets Princess, Princess by Kay O’Neill, with a dash of the Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton tossed in for luck! 

(And that description will either make you REALLY want to read this, or make you want to run for the hills. Both are acceptable outcomes.)

*Trans rights are human rights
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Not So Great Bits:

As you’ve probably gathered by now, this book is weird.

And that’s really not for everyone – and that’s ok.

It’s also extremely difficult to follow in places – if you like things to have logic and/or everything to be wrapped up with no outstanding questions, this isn’t necessarily gonna be for you.

I’m a fan of vagueness when it comes to fantasy, tbh. In life, we don’t always get the whys or the hows, and we literally only know as much as Mila about what’s going on – which isn’t much.

Still, I can def. see that bugging some readers.

Added to that, there’s some truly disturbing horror/monster artwork, and some mild body-horror that’ll squick people out 

– particularly if you have issues with teeth falling out, stuff living inside people, etc.

One thing that I found hugely uncomfortable was the graphic depiction of naked teenage girls.

Like, it wasn’t done in a sexualised way, more of an artsy kind of way, but given these girls are only about 16, I found it weird.

And not good-weird – uncomfortable-weird.

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Content Warnings:

A few things to be aware of with this book (and most of it’s graphic on account of it being a graphic novel):

- nudity
- death
- grief
- horror imagery (inc. body horror)
- violence
- blood and injury
- working out sexuality/identity issues

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The Verdict:

If you don’t mind the weirdness (or if you love weird,) and can move beyond the uncomfortable nudity, then I highly recommend this book.

It’s a topsy-turvy gothic fever-dream with Sapphic girls.

In short: I f**king loved it!

Do you prefer vague or neat-n-tidy?
What's your weird-level when it comes to fantasy? Talk to me! 😊💬

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Last updated: 24th October 2019


  1. Well this sounds... interesting! Can’t say it would be my cup of tea, but glad you enjoyed it anyways :)

    1. Ha, fair enough! It's not one for everyone, to be fair!

  2. I found this graphic novel fascinating and compelling in a what-the-heck-am-I-reading? sort of way, so I can definitely relate to this review. Overall, I think I really liked it. But it was ... weird.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!