Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today is my stop on the TBR and Beyond blog tour for The Moth Keeper graphic novel. You can find the list of other posts going on here.
Being a Moth Keeper is a huge responsibility and a great honor, but what happens when the new Moth Keeper decides to take a break from the moon and see the sun for the first time? A middle-grade fantasy graphic novel about passion, duty, and found family.
Anya is finally a Moth Keeper, the protector of the lunar moths that allow the Night-Lily flower to bloom once a year. Her village needs the flower to continue thriving and Anya is excited to prove her worth and show her thanks to her friends with her actions, but what happens when being a Moth Keeper isn’t exactly what Anya thought it would be?
The nights are cold in the desert and the lunar moths live far from the village. Anya finds herself isolated and lonely. Despite Anya’s dedication, she wonders what it would be like to live in the sun. Her thoughts turn into an obsession, and when Anya takes a chance to stay up during the day to feel the sun’s warmth, her village and the lunar moths are left to deal with the consequences.
K. O’Neill brings to life a beautifully illustrated fantasy world about responsibility to yourself and your community. The Moth Keeper is filled with magic, hope, and friendship.
Content Warning: depression, trauma, burn out themes, abandonment (historical, shown on page through flashback), ableism (historical, minor)
Having previously enjoyed K. O’Neill’s previous work, I was very excited to see what would be waiting in these pages. I was not disappointed.
Anya is a character who you can find yourself in. She does her very best to stay composed, keep her head above water, but underneath it all is struggling with so much self doubt, anxiety and the self-imposed need to keep up appearances. We’ve all had moments like this, if not a constant stream of living in it, if, like me, you are often masking to fit in. I had a lot of empathy for her and her story, finding myself quite emotional at times.
As in O’Neill’s other works, there is a lot of representation present in this graphic novel, and the way it touches on themes like living with a disability at a young age, as this is something I could have done with seeing when reading in my early years of being sick. Estell uses a walking stick and talks at one point about the difficulties in making friends as a disabled child, and this is something which is so important, both from being represented as a disabled person, and also being encouraged to stop and think as an able bodied child, parent and / or adult.
The mythology created surrounding the moths is truly touching, and is as beautiful as the art. It carries the story as a constant theme throughout, allowing you to become fully engaged in something immediately, wanting to know more as the story progresses. As Anya starts to struggle and then searches for a way to redeem herself, the moths accompany her on her journey.
O’Neill’s art style is gorgeous, combining glimpses of the world around us and wonders of their own imagination to create something truly breathtaking, warm and inviting. It feels like the reading equivalent of drinking a mug of your favourite tea; cosy and happy.
About The Author
I am a self-taught writer and illustrator based in New Zealand. I’m interested in nature and all kinds of creatures, mindfulness and mental health, and the magic of every day life. To date I have published three books, which have won Eisner, Harvey and Dwayne McDuffie awards for children’s comics, as well as being Cybils Award finalists and featured on the ALA Rainbow List.
Outside of work I love tea and food, plants, transitional seasons, reading, walking and listening to podcasts.
Barnes and Noble
You can also read my reviews of some of O’Neill’s other works below:
– The Tea Dragon Society (Tea Dragons #1)
– The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragons #2)