When Sibylla visits a witch to learn her future, she discovers that she will become the bride of the Black Bull of Norroway. Legend says that the Black Bull was a fearsome knight whom the Old One transformed into a bull. The Bull arrives, and he informs her he needs her as a bride to break his curse. Trapped by her dislike of the Bull’s reputation and antagonistic behavior and her longing for adventure, Sibylla is determined to fulfill her prophecy. During her journey, Sibylla meets the members of a royal family, all of whom have been ensnared by the same curse. She soon finds that she has been set on a quest of which she has very little true understanding.

The first volume of Norroway is an enjoyable narrative full of twists and turns. Sibylla regularly finds herself at odds with the Bull, who frequently creates conflict with most individuals they encounter and attempts to take on his quest alone. While the arguing slows the story down in places, the results of the Bull’s bad behavior does not completely overwhelm the story. The story becomes especially intriguing as Sibylla learns the true origins of the curse and is forced to confront her perceptions. The volume ends on a cliffhanger that will have readers eager for the next installment.

Sibylla is a determined and inquisitive heroine; she dreams of adventure where other girls in the story do not, questions the Bull’s actions, and isn’t afraid to get involved and reconsider her beliefs. Yet Sibylla’s character seems less vibrant than other characters because she does not do much to move the story. Other than the prophecy, she has little to directly tie her to the main story, and she tends to make decisions that suit the story rather than reflect what we know of her. Because she is starting to become more involved toward the end, Sibylla will hopefully take on more of a role in the future.

Fortunately, the other characters are intriguing. As the rest of the main cast is tied into the curse, they are frequently equal parts ally and antagonist to Sibylla, and that dichotomy contributes to the story’s tension. The Bull especially is a force in the narrative. While he is frequently overbearing, the other cast members and the story regularly challenge his behavior.

Kit Seaton’s brightly colored illustrations bring the story to life. Her character designs are engaging and rich. Many of the cast members are black, a contrast to many fairy tale portrayals. Her varying panel shapes contribute to the story’s tension and mood. Seaton also gives a range of amusing facial expressions to the Bull, and these entertaining expressions add a little touch of needed humor here and there.

Cat and Kit Seaton have set up an engaging fairy tale retelling based on the Scottish folk-tale The Black Bull of Norroway. Image recommends Norroway for ages twelve and up. With an exception of a gruesome death at the beginning, Norroway has relatively bloodless action scenes, and any other gory scenes are portrayed in silhouette. Therefore, the recommended rating seems appropriate. Fantasy readers, particularly lovers of fairy tales and retellings, may enjoy this one.

Norroway, Book One: The Black Bull of Norroway
by Cat Seaton
Art by Kit Seaton
ISBN: 9781534308558
Image, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: T (12 and up)

  • Megan

    | She/Her

    Features Writer

    Megan earned her MLIS from Simmons College and is currently the evening librarian at Bay State College in Massachusetts. She satisfies her voracious appetite for graphic novels and manga through regular visits to her local public libraries and puts her love of graphic novels to good use by adding to Bay State’s collection whenever possible. Megan maintains a personal blog, Ferret with a Strobe Light, where she discusses awesome books she’s read lately. When not engaged in reading or library work, she likes running, drinking tea, and working on her own stories and art.

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