Reading 'The Daughters of Ys'
By: Sydney Spangler
Full of wealth, wonder, and a history of dark secrets, M.T. Anderson and Jo Rioux weave together a story that reimagines a classic Breton folktale of love, loss, and rebirth.
"The Daughters of Ys" is set in an Atlantis-like city from Celtic legend and follows two sisters whose bond is irrevocably changed after the death of their mother, Queen Malgven.
Rozenne, heir to the throne, spends her time on the moors communing with animals, while Dahut, the youngest, enjoys the splendors of royal life and is eager to take part in palace intrigued. However, not everything is as it seems as Dahut pays a monstrous price to protect the city of Ys from creatures lurking in tumultous sea.
Rioux's eerie, mystical, and beautiful drawings drew me to "The Daughters of Ys." Her pencil illustrations are a combination of dynamic figures, swirling lines, and a subdued pallet that bring to life a world that is both haunting and magical. According to an interview with First Second Books, Rioux took inspiration from Celtic culture and the Brittany coastline--using these themes to inform character design and color.
Besides Rioux's fantastic artwork, I enjoyed the feminine power portrayed throughout the story. It is Queen Malgven's magic that first raises the great walls surrounding Ys and then it is Dahut's sacrifice that carries the protection after her mother's death. Rozenne's own power comes into play when she must finally take up the mantle as heir to the throne and must learn how to both lead and protect her people.
Overall, I enjoyed reading "The Daughters of Ys." It's a graphic novel that is easily accessible to all ages and absolutely stunning to read.