Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, illustrations by Wendy Xu, is a graphic novel about Nova, a witch, and her childhood crush, Tam, who is a werewolf. Together, they must defeat a demonic horse and a crazy cult, using their supernatural powers.
The story and illustrations of Mooncakes were cute. I love media involving witches, and Mooncakes gave me the autumnal and witchy vibes that I wanted. There were Halloween decorations in the background, and Nova even celebrates Sukkot with her family and Tam. For those of you who are goyim, Sukkot is a Jewish fall holiday in which people build huts to eat a feast in. It commemorates Jews building their first shelters in the desert after Exodus.
To be honest, I have only celebrated Sukkot once, which was this past fall, as it is a fairly minor holiday, compared to the more major Jewish fall holidays, Rosh Hosannah and Yom Kippur. Still, it was nice to see a a Jewish holiday that isn’t Hanukkah represented. The celebration in the book was also combined with the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival since Nova is Chinese and Jewish. This is was a fun intercultural holiday celebration to see in the graphic novel, especially since both cultures don’t get much representation.
I also thought that Nova and Tam relationship was cute. Tam uses they/them pronouns and Nova is a girl, so their relationship is certainly queer. And representation of people who us they/them pronouns is rare even among LGBTQ+ representation. I also think the childhood friend trope can be a good romance trope. But it did feel like their relationship moved from childhood friends who haven’t seen each other to lovers, a bit too quickly.
I think the limitation of the short format of most graphic novels, though was that the plot moved a bit fast and was confusing. It seemed like Suzanne Walker wanted to fit in a lot of information about Nova, like details of how her hearing aid works, and that she didn’t go away from home for a witch apprenticeship, like most witches. So Walker neglected to focus much on the actual plot.
I do think it could be a really good story if fleshed out more, it just doesn’t seem like a fully published work. This goes for the illustrations as well which looked a bit unpolished. I think if you want to see read graphic novels with queer characters, racially diverse representation, werewolves and witches, I’d recommend the Moonstruck series by Grace Ellis over this: https://illinoiseagle.com/2021/06/22/five-graphic-novels-to-read-for-pride/. But it doesn’t have to be a competiton and Mooncakes can also be a cozy queer book to read next fall.