After Lambana: Myth and Magic in Manila TP
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Release Date: June 7, 2022
Price: $16.99
Creator(s): Eliza Victoria (writer); Mervin Malonzo (artist)
Format: 192 pgs., Full-Color, 6.9"x9.9", Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-8048-5525-9
Age Rating: N/A
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

This is an excellent attempt at bringing folklore of the Philippines into a graphic novel for an American audience. By weaving it into an urban fantasy story it becomes more approachable, even if the details are not familiar. Or is it science fiction, or perhaps horror? The genre boundaries are dented a bit in this work, if not broken entirely.

That said, the artwork is so stylized that some readers may not find it easy to read. Those that do, though, will find a powerful story. It takes place in sort of a dystopia in which magic is necessary but forbidden, and where the walls between the worlds have begun to fail. There are ghostlike creatures, plantlike things growing inside people, and a host of other very strange things woven into the story.

The author is an established science fiction writer who has won the Philippine National Book Award, and the artist won that same award for a previous graphic work. For a variety of reasons, this book took three years for the artist to illustrate, and the finished product includes some things which are explained in the afterword, including unusual color palettes to indicate different time frames.

Some of the material includes nudity and graphic violence, and the complexity of the story suggests an adult audience as well. For adults with a willingness to venture into unfamiliar lore and intriguing artwork, this will be a rewarding read.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.