Marie is hiking through the woods with her brother, Markus, when they come across a magical looking doorway and a box containing two keys. When they follow the directions found with the keys, a portal opens to a parallel world, which, at first, appears similar to their home world until they reach the area where a city should be, and instead find a barren volcanic area. The Mage Goddess appears and bestows a magical bracelet that allows Marie to transform into the titular Soulstream. She is also given the task of returning to her world to find the other two chosen ones. Before they can though, they have their first encounter with one of the villains and lose one of the portal keys.
Back on Earth, Marie discovers that her best friend, Oliver, has one of the bracelets sent by the Mage Goddess and can transform into Charade—just in time to defend themselves from a couple of mercenaries sent by General Inferno Knight. Charade seems more capable of using his powers than Soulstream, which becomes a recurring sore point for Soulstream. Especially once they find Eve, who has the third bracelet and exhibits lots of physical strength. Together they must confront other bracelet holders on the enemy’s side in order to stop an invasion and get the lost key back.
Combining elements of portal fantasy, superhero, and magical girl tropes, Saida Woolf has created a fun graphic novel that explores friendship and strength with colorful art sure to hold any tween’s attention. The art is a pleasant mixture of fluid lines and bright colors and matches the tone of the overall story. I was reminded of some of my favorite anime and manga, actually: Sailor Moon and Magic Knight Rayearth come to mind.
The exploration of friendship and self image is a great addition to the conversation of what strength is and can be. Middle grade is a time when children start becoming aware of society’s tendency to compare people and make judgments based on those comparisons. Books that help them express those feelings are important and I think this book would do well in any collection that caters to children, be that school or public library.
By Saida Woolf
Scout Comics, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: All ages
Series ISBNs and Order
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)