Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill (ARC): A Charming Middle Grade Graphic Novel feat. Aquatic Unicorns

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4 stars

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef.

As Lana explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, she learns of how the adults have harmed the coral reef and how she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean and her own happiness.

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All of you know I don’t read a lot of middle grade, nor do I graphic novels. But I am trying to expand my readership in both, and why not test two birds with one very adorable stone named Aquicorn Cove.

This is a book I would have LOVED as a middle schooler, and even now I still completely adore it!

Not only are there gorgeous illustrations (that are so freakin’ aesthetic!), adorable aquatic unicorns, and a fxf romance featured (but not with the middle school MC–with some of the adults in her life), there’s themes on environmental awareness and so much more.

What else could you ask for?

I found Lana to be such a sweet main character, and very relatable with young me. I might not have been so adventurous, but I did share the same desire for an incredible experience (like, meeting aquicorns) at that age, and I think O’Neill captured this so well with both the illustrations and plot.

The entire idea of aquicorns would have enraptured me in the past, and still does now. I just–who doesn’t love aquatic unicorns living in a gorgeous area under the sea?

Or, well, it was gorgeous until the town started introducing harmful fishing techniques, and bye bye aquicorns.

The entire subtext of environmental awareness is not only a good teaching/learning tool, it’s still very very true, on a much bigger scale worldwide. O’Neill manages to both introduce important topics as well as make it interesting and engaging for the reader at the same time.

Honestly, the only thing I could say I didn’t really like about this was that I wanted more of the character relationships. It’s quite short, but I still craved more of the relationship between Lana and her father, Lana and her aunt, etc. Sometimes it felt like it focused too much on her aunt’s story rather than Lana’s story, and I kind of wish we got to see more of her and how she grew throughout this journey.

Although I loved the casual presentation of adults in a f/f romance and the backstory was presented well, for some reason I feel like it took away from some of the page time for Lana and her own development. I do think this makes the novel appeal to adult readers more, though.

I do want to note that some of the colors and printing were a bit off in my advance reader’s copy (everything looked pinker than it does online), but after looking at digital images of the book, I’ve decided that this is mostly an issue with the pre-publication copies, and I’ll be corroborating the quality of the gorgeous illustrations when I next visit a bookstore!

In the end, this was such an adorable read and I highly recommend for both middle grade readers and non-middle grade readers, for both graphic novel enthusiasts and non-graphic novel enthusiasts. It’s a great light and fluffy and charming read that really lets the reader immerse themself in a richly developed setting and a place of magic and aquicorns.

Thank you so much to Margot Wood & Oni Press for providing me with an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!

much love, vicky

What are some of your favorite graphic novels? Send me recommendations!

3 thoughts on “Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill (ARC): A Charming Middle Grade Graphic Novel feat. Aquatic Unicorns

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