cover image After Lambana: Myth and Magic in Manila

After Lambana: Myth and Magic in Manila

Eliza Victoria and Mervin Malonzo. Tuttle, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-80485-525-9

Manila is a city home to two inextricably linked realities in this melancholy but ultimately hopeful graphic novel inspired by Philippine folklore. Ever since a civil war within the magical realm of Lambana, people have been dying from a mysterious disease called “rose,” which causes flowers to painfully bloom from their bodies; while mysterious “white shadows,” apparitions of living people, wander the streets. In secret, a network of diwata, beings from Lambana, preserve their culture in defiance of the authoritarian government, which forbids the use of magic. Conrad Mendoza de Luna, a young man with a rose on his heart, enters this underground with the help of Ignacio, a mysterious stranger who promises to bring Conrad to a healer. The quest reveals to Conrad the dispossessed lives of former Lambana denizens, as well as memories of his own childhood contact with the magical world. Sketchy, scratchy line work and glowing, brighter-than-Technicolor hues infuse the story with gritty urgency and beauty. This bittersweet urban fantasy unfolds with satisfying layers, and carries pointed echoes of the current political climate in the Philippines. Readers will welcome the diversity it brings to the graphic novel and fantasy genre landscape. (May)