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Compass South

Review

Compass South

In a departure from her previous graphic novels, such as MERCURY and CHIGGERS, which she wrote and illustrated, Larson is the author of her latest graphic novel, COMPASS SOUTH, while Rebecca Mock is the illustrator. COMPASS SOUTH is the first book in the Four Points series of graphic novels about redheaded twins Alexander and Cleopatra.

It is 1860 in New York City and Alex and Cleo’s single dad has disappeared. As a result, the twins join the Black Hook Gang as a surrogate family unit. A botched robbery attempt by the twins leads them to be arrested. However, they strike a deal for their release in exchange for information about the Black Hook Gang. Because of their “snitching,” Alex and Cleo must flee New York City and are provided tickets on a ship to New Orleans.

“Larson deftly manages to interweave all of these various storylines and plot elements into an understandable, compelling and enjoyable read for all ages. Larson’s storytelling is fantastically complemented by Mock’s illustrations.”

The twins’ destination changes when they find a newspaper ad from a father in San Francisco looking for his missing redheaded twin sons, Samuel and Jeremiah Kimball. Alex and Cleo plan to impersonate the twins, with Cleo cutting her hair and assuming the name of Patrick, and claim the reward money from the distressed Kimball father.

However, on their way to San Francisco, Alex and Cleo encounter another set of redheaded twins, Silas and Edwin, who are planning to impersonate the Kimball twins as well. The two sets of twins get separated with Edwin and Alex being thrown on a ship as ship hands and Silas and Cleo/Patrick stowing away on a ship hoping to make it to San Francisco to reunite with each of their twins.

All of these events happen in just the first two chapters of COMPASS SOUTH! The rest of the graphic novel includes high seas adventures, pirates, pursuit by the leader of the Black Hook Gang, the revealing of a family secret, romance, near-death experiences and even more pirates!

Larson deftly manages to interweave all of these various storylines and plot elements into an understandable, compelling and enjoyable read for all ages. Often, in these types of stories with so many storylines and settings, one or more storylines are neglected and leave the reader confused about what is happening, but that is not the case in COMPASS SOUTH. Larson balances out all the storylines and gives appropriate attention to the story of each set of separated twins.

Larson’s storytelling is fantastically complemented by Mock’s illustrations. Mock’s color palette is muted and subdued, which fits perfectly with the historical setting. Mock does a masterful job of capturing numerous settings in full detail, which adds to the depth and texture of the story and potentially the reader’s immersion in the story. My only struggle with the illustrations is that once Cleo cuts her hair and assumes the role of Patrick it is difficult to tell her apart from her brother, Alex, in the illustrations, but in Mock’s defense, they are twins!

COMPASS SOUTH is the start of an exciting new graphic novel series that will likely appeal to readers of all genders, ages and interests. I, for one, will definitely be looking for the subsequent books in the series and hoping that Larson and Mock don’t wait too long before releasing Alex and Cleo’s next adventure(s).

Reviewed by Aimee Rogers on July 20, 2016

Compass South
by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock