This book has come a long way since its first inception. First it was published in Maori in 2013, then in 2014 it was translated and published in English, and now in 2015 we are so incredibly lucky as it comes out as a graphic novel.
For those not in the know, today’s graphic novel is akin to comic book styles of the past, pictorially anyway. It isn’t just words and accompanying pictures. The pictures, or, graphics to use the correct terminology, are an integral part in telling the tale.
We are introduced to Meariki, an unfortunate slave to the Kuwai Village Chief’s daughter, Hineamuru. Meariki is forced to follow Hineamuru and her warrior boyfriend Pehi to the river, where the ignorant young warrior insults the poor slave and then loses Hineamuru to the evil Tanekikiwa who intends to make Hineamuru his reluctant bride. Thus begins Meariki’s adventurous journey to rescue Hineamuru from the clutches of the black magician. As a small and unadorned heroine she meets influential characters along the way, travelling with the transformed trouble-maker Pehi, and ultimately discovering her own unique destiny.
Graphic novels are new to me, however, I found myself quickly turning pages in order to discover Meariki’s fate. I found the story and how it was woven very attractive. The graphics are stunning and well-executed, making me want to carry on and read more of the tale when I closed the cover at the end. I want to read more of these Matawehi Fables, having enjoyed the modern interpretation of a myth, complete with cleverly depicted ghoulish creatures.
I thoroughly recommend Huia Publishers’ latest offering by the collaboration of writer Helen Pearse-Otene and graphic artist Andrew Burden. It is a graphic novel that would make great reading for readers of all ages, especially those who are never keen to pick up wordy tomes to read.
Reviewed by Penny M Geddis
Meariki: The Quest for Truth (The Matawehi Fables)
Written by Helen Pearse-Otene, Illustrated by Andrew Burden
Published by Huia Publishers