The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor by Shaenon K. Garrity and Christopher Baldwin
Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
After jumping into the river to rescue a handsome young man on a dark and stormy night, Haley wakes in Willowweep Manor, a gothic mansion like those in her favorite books. She learns that the manor—and its caretaker brothers—are the only things keeping evil at bay in the “real world.” Together with this sibling trio, Haley must channel her knowledge of literary tropes to save Willowweep from an evil slime bent on destruction, all while becoming the hero of her own story.
This is a fun, and sometimes goofy, graphic novel featuring a clever protagonist. The supporting characters all fall into recognizable gothic clichés, including the passionate brother who captures Haley’s interest, the stern housekeeper mourning a lost love, a mysterious hermit, and mischievous nature/wildlife. The plot isn’t particularly complicated, which keeps the story moving at a fast pace, and the images are bright and engaging. Readers don’t need to have any prior knowledge of gothic fiction to enjoy the book (although there are plenty of inside jokes for anyone familiar with the genre). This is an accessible selection, even for younger readers of YA fiction.
Recommend this to fans of graphic novels featuring strong and quirky female characters and a touch of fantasy, such as Snapdragon by Kat Leyh or Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Readers of the Manga Classics series titles like Jane Eyre will appreciate the sly references to classic literature sprinkled throughout The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor.
Other Nominated Titles
- Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal (May 11, 2021)
- Parenthesis by Élodie Durand and Edward Gauvin (translator) (February 9, 2021)
- Manga Classics: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Crystal Chan, and Kuma Chan (November 10, 2020)
The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.
Each week, the teams will feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation will be listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.