Today I am joining the TBR & Beyond Blog Tour for Mapmakers and the Lost Magic – Cameron Chittock and Amanda Castillo which was released a couple of days ago.
You can check out the tour schedule and the other blogs involved here.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
A young girl finds herself faced with an impossible choice–run away from her beloved valley, or unleash a hidden magic and become a Mapmaker to save her home from its new overlords.
For centuries, the Mapmakers kept peace in the Valley, but they’ve long since disappeared. Now the Night Coats hold power with an iron grip–there are only rules, punishments, and consequences. Until one night, on the run from the Night Coats (again), after breaking another rule (again), Alidade stumbles upon a secret door leading to a magical hideaway that belongs to the Mapmakers. There, she finds a map of her home and accidentally brings to life Blue, a magical creature called a memri who is meant to protect the Valley. Blue needs Alidade’s help to find the Mapmakers and save the Valley from the Night Coats!
But the Mapmakers are long gone.
Alidade has a choice: leave the Valley like she’s always wanted…or become a Mapmaker and save the only home she’s ever known.
This is the first book in a thrilling series of adventures where Alidade discovers the world around her as she goes on a fantastical journey.
Mapmakers and the Lost Magic was a book I wanted to read the moment I heard about it – they had me at mapmakers, and there was a lot to love about this graphic novel. One of course is the artwork – you just need to see the cover to know its going to be amazing, and the style and colouration, especially to capture the different settings were absolutely fantastic and did a great job of capturing the feel of nature and exploration and discory that is so central to this book, while being cute and engaging for younger readers as well.
The core ideas of Mapmakers are also great. There is very much that focus on exploration and discovery, and has a very natural, eco-centric heart to the story – with Alidade learning a lot about the land and its inhabitants as she explores, and how to treat that with care. An important message, and this is a great way to broach that topic with the target audience of this graphic novel in a way that’s engaging as well as educational. There is also a much more personal and emotional aspect to the story, with Alidade dealing with loss, and also in trying to find her place in the world and learning as much about herself as the world around her. I really liked Alidade as a character, and her relationships with those around her, and how important those ties were and she was a compelling reason for following along with the story.
Those aspects were all fantastic, and honestly I would have loved to have just followed Alidade’s story and spent more time exploring and learning about the Mapmakers ideals of artistry and accuracy. It was the rest of the plot that I felt was not as satisfying, and while this is middle-grade, but I would say it leans towards the younger end because the depth wasn’t there – and I found myself with more questions than answers, and I think children would be the same. There is a simplicity to the villains – The Night Coats and the conflict, and aspects like the magic system are left with little explanation, and I found that part of the book too simplistic and not particularly gripping. This was very much countered by the parts where the focus was on exploring and the mapmakers.
Overall, this is a beautiful, fun graphic novel which offers the possibility of more and while the plot could have been stronger, I think it’s charm and the important core ideas will make this a popular book, and it’s also a lovely introduction to fantasy and dystopia for younger readers.
Cameron Chittock is a writer from northeast Ohio. He grew up surrounded by siblings, wildlife, and comics of all kinds. Cameron’s writing is possible thanks to patient teachers, encouraging friends, and a supportive family. His favorite stories are those of heroes and friendship. Cameron previously edited comics, including titles such as Mech Cadet Yu, the Eisner Award–nominated graphic novel New World, and Jim Henson’s The Power of the Dark Crystal. He now lives in New England and works in education. When he’s not writing, he enjoys coaching basketball, reading giant fantasy books, and sitting by the pond with his family. Mapmakers and the Lost Magic is his debut graphic novel.
Amanda Castillo is a comic artist, illustrator, and storyteller, born and raised in the Bay Area in California. Having grown up inspired by piles of manga, games about friendship and adventure, and the endless wonders of the California outdoors, Amanda went on to study illustration to hone a skill set to tell warm and heartfelt stories that could be enjoyed and remembered by someone like you! After getting into the comics world through working with Youth in Decline, Amanda has since contributed to publishers such as BOOM! Studios, Lion Forge, and now Random House Graphic. In addition to making comics, Amanda has shown work in galleries domestically and helped judge annual comics awards. When not making comics, Amanda enjoys spending time with friends and loved ones, making warm and hearty meals, learning to tend to plants, and taking in the lovely moments the world has to offer. Mapmakers and the Lost Magic is their debut graphic novel.
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If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.