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Warning! Graphic [Novel] Content Ahead!

Updated: Sep 18, 2022

coming out of my book hangover meant getting a little... graphic. so here are the two graphic novels I read to close out February.

Book 12: Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Experience the propulsive love story of two Greek gods—Hades and Persephone—brought to life with lavish artwork and an irresistible contemporary voice. Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of mythology’s most well-known stories from creator Rachel Smythe. Featuring a brand-new, exclusive short story, Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated web-comic Lore Olympus brings the Greek Pantheon into the modern age with this sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel. This volume collects episodes 1-25 of the #1 WEBTOON comic, Lore Olympus. 

Lore Olympus Review

a couple years ago, I kept getting ads on instagram for this comic series on webtoon called "Lore Olympus" and I was hooked. the ad featured panels from the early parts of the series of persephone meeting hades for the first time. I was wary of the site so I would try to get the ads where ever and whenever I could. eventually, I broke down and downloaded the app and devoured all the available "lore Olympus" content.

I guess, technically, this was a reread since it encompassed episodes 1 - 25 of the webtoon. I went into this book to inspire me to reconnect with my love of reading and it definitely did that for me; but as you may have read in my previous post, it took some time for me to feel motivated again.

the plot line is a modern reimagining of the myth of hades and persephone and deals with all the heavy and problematic themes that underlie in almost all of greek mythology with such a respectful and thoughtful way. it was comforting and suspenseful, having not read the series in about a year.

I wanted to buy the physical copy to support the artist/creator of this series and honestly, I'm so glad I did. even though it's something available online for free, the book is so beautifully vibrant and glossy. i'm excited to collect the other volumes in this series.


Book 13: The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado

From New York Times bestselling author Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body And Other Parties, In The Dream House) comes a story so horrifying you won't dare to forget

There's something in the woods... Shudder-to-Think, Pennsylvania, has been on fire for years. The woods are full of rabbits with human eyes, a deer woman who stalks hungry girls, and swaths of skinless men. And the people of Shudder-to-Think? Well, they're not doing so well either. When El and Octavia wake up in a movie theater with no memory of the last few hours of their lives, the two teenage dirtbags embark on a horrifying journey to uncover the truth about the strange town that they call home.

From critically acclaimed writer Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) comes The Low, Low Woods, from the smash-hit lineup of the Hill House Comics library. Featuring stunning artwork by Dani (Lucifer), this volume collects The Low, Low Woods #1-6.

The Low, Low Woods Review

this definitely had much more emphasis on the grit and gore. after reading lore olympus, I wanted to get back to the darker themes I'm used to. the setting took place in a fictional town in Pennsylvania, which was close enough to feel like home; letting the town dip into the uncanny. what I didn't realize when I bought this book is that it's the third book in the series and I wonder if I had missed context within the plot because I hadn't read the first two. from what I can tell, it looks like each book can be read standalone but I am considering finding the others and reading them eventually.

in the first half of the story, I did feel like there was some greater plot that I couldn't see and I wondered if it was an intentional choice or if it was me feeling distracted or if it was due to me jumping into the middle of a set. once I got to the end, I realized this missing feeling was intentional.

ultimately, I had to take half a point away from the book because, although an utterly necessary plot device which led to an incredible reveal, I did feel confused for a good chunk of the book. I also found that visually, there were parts of the panels that I couldn't really differentiate because the colors were so dark (though I admit, this is more of a me problem).


~ spoilers ahead! ~

Trigger Warning: this next section will address the depiction of sexual assault in both books

both lore olympus and the low, low wood dealt very differently in how it addressed sexual assault. with lore olympus, the reader is taken into the point of view of persephone as she is being assaulted by Apollo. it provides very real perspectives on her self doubt and her innocence and naïveté as she disassociates throughout the assault and its aftermath.

the low, low wood, on the other hand, deals with the repression of memories after an assault. it isn't apparent until the end that the consistent feeling I had about missing information was intentional because the female characters in the story are drugged and spend the entire plot trying to figure out what they forgot. the story follows two young queer women who are desperately trying to piece together what happened to them after waking up in a movie theater. they live in a coal mining town which has since become defunct after a fire spread within the town, causing mutations in the inhabitants and surrounding forest. it is later revealed that the water in a nearby river has memory erasing properties and had been used by the men in the town to take advantage of the women and young girls repeatedly. the horrifying creatures found in the woods are the men and women who were affected.

the revelation shook me to my core. it was incredibly well hidden and well done and it gave me the satisfaction of retribution. in the end, the two teens find a way to allow the women and girls of the town to take draughts to allow memory loss or gain; thereby giving the power back to those who were attacked. the visual and verbal metaphors sprinkled in every nook of this book were amazing and I wish I had given it more consideration as I read along.

final thoughts

February was a rough reading month for me but I am feeling refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle another month (reading-wise at least). my goal for march is to tackle the insane amount of books on my bookshelf that I haven't read. so, here goes.

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