Title: Mercury
Author: Hope Larson
ISBN: 9781416935889
Pages: 234 pages
Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division), c2010.

Two stories, two parallel lives, play out in this graphic novel by Eisner Award winning author Hope Larson.
The year is 1859 and Josey house is playing host to a traveler who turns out to be a prospector. Mr. Currey is anxious to strike a deal with Josey’s father, confident that there is gold on the farm, and they set off down the mine shaft together. Josey’s mother is not as taken by the traveler as her husband and daughter, and her foreboding feeling might just prove right in the end.

The year is 2009 and Tara’s house has burnt to the ground, forcing her to move in with her aunt, uncle, and cousins while her mom works far away. Getting reacquainted with her classmates she left two years ago, Tara learns that she might have to leave again as her mom searches for more permanent work. Cash-strapped Tara turns to her last option… searching for buried gold. Will a mysterious family heirloom assist her in finding what she needs most?

While the beginning is a little choppy with no clear introduction of the characters, readers quickly catch-up and become engaged by this tale involving buried treasure and a little magical realism. Although it takes place in Nova Scotia, Canada and contains references for that area, little asterisks and footnotes help American readers follow the dialogue, and the setting could just as easily be northern United States.

The back and forth perspectives between Tara and Josey lend intrigue, because you see how the actions in 1859 affect the events 150 years later. It also allows the action to progress at a clip, and Larson cuts out the potentially slow parts. Jumping off points between the two stories are chosen well, and I could picture this being made into a movie. For instance, on page 164 the sun sets on Tara’s story, and the following page has the sun rising in Josey’s tale. Expressions are well designed and easy to read, eliminating the need for extraneous dialogue. Sound effects are added in a style similar to comic books, with “Slap”, “Groan” and “Clap” appearing in a larger than life manner.

All in all, a fast, enjoyable read. I would be interested in reading a sequel, where the “heirloom” is explored a little more, as something tells me that there is more than meets the eye.

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