Mamo Vol. 1 by Sas Milledge Review

Mamo by Sas Milledge

Publisher: BOOM Box! (Boom Studios)

Release Date: April 19, 2022

Pages: 224

Available Through The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: Orla O’Reilly, the youngest in a long line of hedge witches, is compelled to return home after the death of her grandmother, Mamo. In the wake of her Mamo’s passing, seas are impossible to fish, crops have soured, even Jo Manalo’s attic is taken over by a poltergeist! And to make matter worse it appears that the cause is Mamo, or her mislaid bones that is. Can Orla shoulder the responsibility of quieting her Mamo’s spirit, saving her hometown, and will she have to step up as the new witch of Haresden like Mamo always wanted?

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Mamo captivates from the first page, with its tranquil, coastal town of Haresden, quiet storytelling and spellbinding mystery! When Jo needs some help of the magical kind, she meets local hedgewitch Orla, soon the two embark on an adventure to solve mysteries around their seaside town. Easily one of my new favorite graphic novels, from the setting, to the characters & whimsical, lush artwork, you’ll be enchanted by Haresden, eager to read more!

I’ve had quite a bit of luck with graphic novels and especially BOOM Studios titles. The artwork drew me in, but the story kept me there in the seaside setting of Haresden, wondering what would await Jo Manolo and Orla O’Reilly as they traveled the town! One of my favorite graphic novels of this year, please do not miss this gem. Currently I think it’s a standalone, but the characters, subtle magic + awesome setting captivated me and wholeheartedly recommend this if you need a new graphic novel to obsess over.

Milledge’s artwork contains a wispiness to the style, alongside the muted nature colors that paint for us a place that’s easy to get lost in. From the rolling hills, remote dense forests, coastal town houses, lush hillsides, birds, even the more seaside locales that deliver a serene ambience to the setting, paired so perfectly with the magical mystery elements. With the peaceful opening shot of Jo on her bike, riding out of Haresden to seek out the help of a hedgewitch, from there Milledge’s style became quite clear in how it helped to build the world of this graphic novel. In the first chapter, I particularly loved how there was such minimal dialogue that allowed the art to tell the story.

Jo Manolo needs the help of a hedgewitch when her mother gets taken over by a spirit and falls into a deep sleep. Luckily she finds Orla, a the witch of Haresden who prefers to keep herself at a distance, to solve this magical mystery. However, when Orla realizes the balance of the town seems to be off & that it’s somehow connected to her grandmother, the former witch of Haresden, she has no choice but to figure things out (with Jo eagerly at her side).

What follows is Orla and Jo traveling throughout Haresden not only to figure out why the nature of Haresden seems to be off balance, but uncovering more about Orla’s backstory. Not only does the plot delve into the difficult training she underwent went being trained by her grandmother, but also what makes it complicated for Orla to stay in town with all the past trauma it holds for her. The irony of it becomes that in order for her to truly be free from a place that associates a traumatic period, she needs to stay in Haresden and complete the quest of laying Mamo’s spirit to rest…which is the only way to also bring back the stability of the natural boundaries in town.

Jo and Orla’s dynamic builds at a steady pace throughout the novel which to me, never felt rushed and was realistic given the single volume page-length, though *spoilers , the relationship between them felt established only by those last few chapters, I wanted just a bit more development once the ending arrives. There’s also a cat familiar named Sith, who is so adorable & just wants to nap!

The magic system not only is an exceptionally important element to the story, but Milledge crafted it in such a way where the laws, rules & limitations are equally fundamental to the story also. The idea of boundaries whether that’s between people and nature, the everyday alongside the world’s folklore, magical creatures and their territories, the concept becomes essential to how the magic and Jo + Orla’s quest to seek out Mamo’s bones develops. Additionally, the concept of sharing & giving in magic, the tiniest details build into not only the world, but the story in a gradual way that was so well developed.

If anything, for what (I believe is a standalone), there was much of the world that left me eager to explore because honestly, what truly stuck with me was the quiet, atmospheric cozy vibes of the setting, which no doubt will leave anyone who picks this book up feeling the exact same way. Also in terms of representation, Jo is Filipina and both girls are sapphic.

I would also recommend this if you are in the mood for more Cozy Fantasy books, it truly captures what makes it a comforting slice-of-life fantasy the quiet ambience of the setting, the slower pace & character-focused storytelling, definitely checked all the boxes for me!!

Mamo Vol. 1 is indeed a cozy, magical & atmospheric graphic novel that pulls you into its spellbinding world. Propelled by two delightful leads, folklore and myth, and mystery, Sas Milledge’s graphic novel is a spectacularly illustrated read that you need on your radar!!

Have you read this graphic novel? Any you recommend?

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