Cover Image: Wingbearer

Wingbearer

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Member Reviews

In Wingbearer, Zuli, who has been raised by bird spirits, must leave her home and journey to the living world to find out why bur souls are no longer reincarnating. On her journey, Zuli makes friends and uncovers secrets about herself and the world. I liked the story of Wingbearer, but the art is what really drew me in. The world feels so rich and gorgeous.
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Zuli has lived with the guardians of the Great Tree since she was orphaned at a young age.  The Great Tree is guarded by mystical bird spirits (which remind me of a phoenix of light).  When a bird dies it reappears on the Great Tree as a leaf and the guardians watch and care for it, ensuring it is reborn as a new bird.  However lately the leaves have been dying as the bird's souls have stopped returning to the Great Tree.  Sure, something is behind it, the guardians sent out Little Red first, but when he doesn't return, Zuli is then sent out to investigate with her owl companion, Frowly.  Having been raised among the branches of the Great Tree, Zuli has never ventured beyond her safe home, she's never even saw anyone who looks like herself before.   Zuli is however a very determined girl and so she seeks to find answers for what is happening to the bird's souls and to protect the Great Tree from whatever is stealing its magic.

Wingbearer is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel.  Oh, so gorgeous, and defiantly not to be missed.  Issakhanian has a way with the facial expressions of the characters that are so on point, and when added with the humorous narrations between Zuli and Orien and Frowly, it makes for a wonderful story.  The colors of each of the illustrations were an amazing blend of these bright pinks and yellows paired with the dazzling changes of landscapes, moving from the greens of the forest to the browns of the runes of the new world that Zuli ventures into.    I just love how she builds this immersive world for the characters to quest through.  The contrast of Zuli's safe haven to the runes that she finds beyond are stark reminders of the hazards of war.  Some of the panels even remind me of a magical Disney movie scene, which would be lovely if this could become a movie.   All these beautiful details, like when she ends up in a cave and the way the light plays off the dark cavern, just love it!  And the story, such a wonderful fantasy adventure, lots of action and a wonderful mix of characters.   I really loved Frowly, probably because I love owls, but also because I'm picturing him as Archimedes from the Sword in the Stone.  I'd pair this with the Amulet series.  

**A huge thank you to Sparkpress and the publisher for my E-ARC **
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I had no idea this was the first in a series, so I’m BIG MAD at that cliffhanger ending! When I got to the last page, I got so mad that the next page was the acknowledgments! I thought I missed a page! Ugh!

HOWEVER, this is one of the most visually stunning graphic novels I’ve ever read. The panels and full page artwork is truly, truly masterful. I was so impressed and it took me longer to read this than normal because I could not stop staring at it. Absolutely breathtaking.

The story itself is EXTREMELY interesting. I was super impressed with that. The only problem I had with it was it fell into the graphic novel trap of some page transitions felt like you missed something when you flipped between them. Happens, but it’s not the end of the world.

I’m DEFINITELY eager to see what happens next!
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3 stars.  Thank you Netgalley for the arc.  The big plus for this first installment of a new graphic novel series is the art style.  The artwork is absolutely gorgeous and is a large part of the 3 star rating.  I would still be interested in continuing the series but it was a very slow start plot wise and world building wise in a new fantasy series.  The plot twist at the end obviously makes you want to continue.  Overall, this is a good start to a new middle grade graphic novel series by an author favorite.
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I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wingbearer is the first in a new series of graphic novels. There were a lot of fantasy elements within this like dragons, goblins, etc. The illustrations were also beautiful.

I wish there had been a bit more background at the beginning. For being the first in the new series, there was not a lot of explanation of the setting we started out in. There were also some creatures named but not really explained.
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Looking to be swept away to a magical world with goblins, dragons, griffins, and magnificent fantastical beings? Wingbearer by Marjorie M. Liu and illustrated by Teny Issakhanian is a promise of a dazzling fantasy adventure with a compelling quest and mystery that will keep you turning the page. The story follows young Zuli, a young dark-skinned girl raised by bird spirits in the Great Tree where the souls of birds go to rest before their journey into their next lives. When a mysterious force threatens the Great Tree, Zuli, along her guardian owl Frowly, leaves and sets off an adventure where she will make unexpected friends, meet powerful magical beings, and confront her true identity.

Wingbearer inspires a sense of wonder and adventure. Issakhanian’s illustrations bring to life a vivid and realised world, the details in the art illuminating boundless magic and mysteries unknown. Readers will be swept away from the very first page, intrigued by Zuli’s enchanting home in the Great Tree and intrigued even more to discover that the world beyond everything she ever knew is, in contrast, cold, sad, and devoid of life. For readers who are looking for something thematic, Wingbearer has an unexpected yet welcome leaning towards philosophy, spirituality, and nature, and Zuli’s contrasting perspective on nature compared to other characters will definitely inspire discussion.

Indeed, Wingbearer is a compelling fantasy adventure, but it is also a profound story about identity, belonging, and doing what is right. Zuli is a fantastic protagonist and I enjoyed following her journey from her perspective. Her upbringing with the mystical birds and her perspectives of life, death, and the nature of things empower her clear sight of what is right and good, furthermore unclouded by the prejudices and implications of wars past. Yet, when Zuli steadily discovers that her quest is also tied to her true identity, everything that she has ever known will be called into question – and the twist in the story will surprise and excite.

Ultimately, Wingbearer is a faultlessly fun adventure and I had a great time reading it. In fact, Wingbearer made me nostalgic for the visual stories that I read as a kid; the kind of stories with vast new worlds or memorable characters that made me not only want to dive right into the world but also be like the characters embarking on a brave adventure and experiencing wondrous things beyond my imagination. In saying this, I am confident that Wingbearer will one day be the story that young readers today will be nostalgic about in the future and a story that will inspire future dreamers, storytellers, and adventurers.
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NetGalley ARC Educator 550974

Thought provoking and exquisite artwork, paired with an amazing story and a main character that is not the standard issue hero, this book is Amazing! I absolutely love Zulli and her band of friends. I can't wait for future installments.
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Wingbearer is a Middle Grade, Graphic Novel about a young girl that has known nothing of her life before the Great Tree and the birds. She has been there since she was an infant and raised by the birds and the bird spirits that come there to be reborn into the world. The book begins when something starts to threaten the magic of the tree and the spirits are no longer appearing to be reborn, Zuli, our main character is confused, upset, but determined to figure out what has happened and fix it. The means venturing into the real world to figure it all out. 

Zuli is young, innocent, and very sheltered. She doesn't know anything of her background or history, but is fully alright with leaving the safety of her home/tree to save it. She is determined and a bit stubborn. When she doesn't understand something she just pushes forward and hopes for the best. She is a strong character that I think younger readers will like. 

The plot of the book begins with the missing spirits and then leads us on a journey about who Zuli might be. Although we don't learn a lot about her yet, there is a lot of mystery for the reader to follow and attempt guesses with. 

This graphic novel was very well done. The illustrations were bright and the worldbuilding was very well done throughout the images and the plot. I found that there was a lot of dialogue and not enought being told through the images, however I know that middle grade graphic novels tend to have this issue as it tries to lead younger readers more easily through the story.

Overall, if you liked the Amulet series or are looking for more middle grade graphic novels, this is a great beginning to a new series that you may also enjoy.
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Unbearably beautiful STUNNING artwork and a good beginning to a story that will appeal to young fans of sci-fi and fantasy such as Amulet and Bone.
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Zuli was raised by bird spirits in a mystical great tree that is a haven for their souls. Her origin is a mystery and she seems to be the only one of her kind. When bird souls are taken and not allowed to come to the great haven in order to be reborn, Zuli leaves her home to solve the mystery and retrieve the souls.

Accompanied by her owl guardian Frowley, Zuli goes on a journey, gathering unexpected friends and fighting enemies along the way. She discovers her own unexpected gifts, and begins to uncover her identity. 

This engaging adventure swept me away to Zuli’s world and I didn’t want the story to end. The artwork is wonderful and fits the tone of the story perfectly. The world building is very well done, complex and immersive, without being confusing. This is fast paced and action-packed but the characters really shine through. Recommended for fans of Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi.
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Charming story, likable characters, pretty art…. The book this one put me in mind of was the first volume of Princeless.  Not because the stories are super similar but because they both gave me the feeling that the creators were having a good time making the story and really just put their whole hearts into making something that would be fun for kids to read.  Both of them just left me with a smile on my face and feeling like aw that was fun.  And nice!  Adventure stories a kid could have a good time reading without them either being too violent or scary for a kid and without being too cutesy or sanitizing any sense of excitement or peril out of the story.  Fun  to read for an adult too if you’re sufficiently in touch with your inner child.  Where were some of these really good kids books when I was little?
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What a stunning graphic novel! Completely magical and immersive, the story follows Zuli and her companion owl Frowly as Zuli searches for information about her origins. When the souls of birds go missing from the spirit-tree Zuli inhabits, Zuli embarks on a quest to discover why, while also discovering the truth of her origins. Action-packed and full of adventure (as well as tense moments where Zuli is pursued by dragon-like creatures and other foes), this book makes for a great page-turner. Zuli fits into the role of hero nicely, with Frowly providing great comic relief. On her journey, Zuli meets many friends and faces a range of baddies. This story touches on themes of friendship, hope, betrayal, conservation, and following your heart to find the truth. The art is gorgeous, the world beautifully depicted and thought out, and the characters well-rounded and relatable. I can’t wait to press this book into the hands of readers.
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Wingbearer is one of my first graphic novels to read in 2022 and it does not disappoint. 

Beautiful art and landscapes provided by Teny Issakhanian with a story crafted by the celebrated Marjorie M. Liu. I’ve read a few of her stories before this but this first volume is something that brings a breath of air into her story crafting I’ve been excited to dive into. This novel is perfect for the readers who want to see diverse characters, fierce heroines and a richly illustrated world that takes my breath away. 

A touch of spoilers, but nothing too illuminating. 

Zuli, our main character is given a quest and made to leave her home in order to save it. We go along with her as she learns about the world outside of The Great Tree, learning about its people and the history. But she has more connections than any of us could imagine, and her appearance back in the living world has a ripple effect that shakes the foundations of all its people. 

While this simply sets up for a bigger adventure and a wider story, I’m wholly impressed by the way it's been laid out. There are a few times that it feels a bit dialogue heavy, but it goes hand in hand with revealing the lore of the land, creating an intricate world with just as much depth as one like ours could be.
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After reading some of Liu's Monstress, I was excited to pick up her middle grade debut, especially when I read the synopsis. I really enjoyed the world being built as the story went along and the lyrical storytelling style that it began with. Zuli is a compelling character whose personality is endearing. She's courageous even when she's afraid and full of curiosity. Along the way she meets a number of different characters, both friends and foes - and has to find out the hard way sometimes which side they are on. This was a fantastic introduction to a lush fantasy world and hopefully there will be more to come!
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E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Zuli was orphaned as an infant and is being raised by birds and the bird spirits in the Great Tree. It's an idyllic life, and she gets to watch as the spirits of birds who have died reappear as leaves and then venture forth to be reborn. When no bird spirits seem to be leaving and the leaves on the dry are shriveled and brown, the community worries. Reluctantly, it is agreed that Zuli should venture forth into the real world to see what is happening. The owl, Frowly, accompanies her. The other world is destroyed, with wreckage everywhere. Zuli is attacked, but saved by Orien. Frowly is leery of their new friend, since he is a goblin, but he offers to take the two to the Nainai of his people to try to find out what is going on. Zuli, whose bracelet marks her as a special member of a long lost people. She is also being hunted by a Witch-Queen, who is sending all manner of dastardly creatures after her. Zuli holds her own, keeping her quest to find out what is happening with the birds foremost in her mind despite all of the obstacles the new world throws at her. Will she be able to survive giant spiders, dragons, and wraith-like creatures in order to put the bird world to rights? Another book is needed to finish this story!
Strengths: This was a great, philosophical fantasy adventure about existence and identity, offset by plenty of action and adventure. Zuli is an appealing character who loves her world enough to leave in order to save it. This has all of the good parts of a hero's quest story, and Zuli bravely travels all over the unaccustomed world, gathering supporters, following clues, and finding out secrets about her own past. The illustrations are bright, with heavily saturated colors that really make the scenes pop, and the facial expressions on the characters add a lot to the story. There is still a lot we need to find out, so I assume a sequel is in the works. 
Weaknesses: Frowly looked a bit like... Archimedes from Disney's The Sword and the Stone? I couldn't quite pin it down, but it bothered me. Orien didn't look like a goblin, but more like Malificent from Sleeping Beauty. Young readers will not have these previous examples of animated characters wedged so firmly in their memories. 
What I really think: I don't quite understand this, since it combines two things with which I personally struggle; fantasy and graphic novels. Still, it is well done, and will be appreciated by fans of Amulet, Aldridge's Estranged, and Stevenson's Nimona.
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Thank you to the Quill Tree Books and NetGalley for the advanced electronic review copy of this book. This great middle-grade novel has a little bit of everything: a diverse set of characters, gorgeously detailed artwork, magic, great world-building, adventure, and, based on the ending — a possibility of volume 2. The story emphasizes loyalty, friendship, family, and conservation, among other important ideas. I would recommend this book for ages 10-14.
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Oh my goodness, I cannot wait for the next one to come out! The illustrations are beautiful and you are caught up in the story as you move through this fast-paced graphic novel.
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Wingbearer is an enchanting tale told in illuminating illustrations. Zuli is a brave girl with a big heart that readers will instantly want to route for, and her skeptical sidekick Frowly provides refreshing comic relief throughout the book. Endearing, funny, and for fans of the found family trope, Wingbearer is a graphic novel that is sure to put a smile on your face!
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After seeing this was by Marjorie Liu, I had a feeling I was going to like it, and boy was I right. The story hooked me right from the get-go, and Teny Issakhanian's were beautiful. Zuli is immediately an utterly likable protagonist, and all of her companions—Frowly, Orien, even the brief encounters along the way—made for such a captivating story. Along with the characters, the world that was created for this story was super complex and felt very well thought out, which is especially nice since this was only the first book. This was definitely one of the best graphic novels I've read this year (rivaled only by Liu's other series) and I am so excited to see where they go with this story since the ending was such a cliffhanger.
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Zuli is a young girl living amongst the guardians of the spirits of dead birds. She’s not entirely sure how she came to be there, the guardians having raised her since she was a baby, and she’s content to spend her life in the Great Tree caring for the bird spirits until they are reborn into the World. When bird spirits stop arriving at the Great Tree, Zuli must leave the safety of her guardian family and the tree to enter the World and save the bird spirits.

Wingbearer is a fun new graphic by the fantastic writer Marjorie Liu. While this is an introduction to a new series and requires some explanation and backstory, it still manages to keep the reader engaged with interesting characters and creatures, and lots of humor. 

Wingbearer touches on a lot of social justice issues, but never treats them as simple. For example, when Zuli is mortified by the goblin’s wood harvesting Orien explains that the goblins wouldn’t survive without using the trees and they try to only take what they’ll use. Recognizing the complexity in issues sparks questions and discussion rather than reducing the issue to the binary of good and bad, kids benefit from this complex framing and I love that here is a graphic novel to broach (even if gently) some tough topics.

Wingbearer is full to the brim with worldbuilding backstory waiting to be revealed and foreshadowing that most youngsters won’t pick up on initially but will make this such a great series to reread once big reveals occur.

This is Teny Isaakhanian’s debut graphic novel, but they have worked in the some of the greatest animation powerhouses for years and it shows. The way panels and scenes are thoughtfully set up made Wingbearer flow beautifully. The characters’ expressions depicted levels of emotional depth. Most of all I loved the way light and magic glowed.

Wingbearer will easily become a graphic novel series kids devour. I can’t wait to get it into the hands of my own kids, and recommend it to others.

I posted this review to Goodreads.
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