cover image The Well

The Well

Jake Wyatt, illus. by Choo. First Second, $24.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-6267-2414-3

A farmer’s teenage granddaughter embarks on a perilous journey to break her curse in this Chinese-inspired heroic myth. Li-zhen is three coins short to pay the fare back home after a laborious day selling her and her grandfather’s wares at the market. Desperate, she steals from the village’s wishing well, which curses her. To remove her affliction, Lizzy must fulfill the wish of each person whose coin she stole, lest the ocean consume her in recompense. With the well’s mysterious, cloaked guardian as her guide, Lizzy is tasked with ferrying a stranger to a faraway land, helping a greedy man gain immeasurable wealth, and slaying the Leviathan—a monster she thought dead after her late witch mother felled it years before—that is terrorizing her island home of Shui Jing. Choo’s thinly lined inks render intricately detailed characters, and pale-hued coloring and expertly prioritized negative space ground the expansive worldbuilding. Wyatt enlivens classic fantasy tropes and themes through the lens of a tenacious heroine whose rapidly expanding worldview and patchy memories of her complicated past build toward a poignant resolution through a compact, immersive narrative. Characters are portrayed with varying skin tones. Ages 14–up. Agent: Charlie Olsen, InkWell Management. (May)