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Review: Iyanu: Child of Wonder

I’m always looking for new stories to catch my eye and Kickstarter is a great place to discover artists and storytellers that are looking to make their dreams become reality. My latest find was Iyanu: Child of Wonder by Youneek Studios, created by Roye Okupe and illustrated by Godwin Akpan.

It’s been 1,000 years since the age of wonders, a time where the Divine Ones blessed Yorubaland with spiritual, structural, and technological marvels. But history of the ancient civilization has become myth. Until a teenage orphan girl who has no recollection of her past discovers she has powers that rival the Divine Ones themselves.

Below review is spoiler-free:

The reader is introduced to our young protagonist Iyanu as she’s hunting in the forest. Within a couple pages her we see she’s merciful and has a sense of humor. I really appreciate the development of the culture and different supporting cast in the comic. While the dialogue in few areas feels too evasive, I can understand the choice to be more vague to benefit the story's tension.

Worldbuilding is tough to do without making the reader feel like they’re trudging through exposition, but I have to give Okupe credit here for doing his best to create balance. A new world and new magic means convincing the reader it’s worth suspending their disbelief long enough that they get immersed. And I’m very curious about seeing how the magic evolves as the story progresses. Something else I appreciated were the fun facts included at the start of each chapter that offer insight into the real cultural inspiration of Iyanu. I felt like that provided wonderful information that deepened my interest in the story being told.

I have to take a moment to focus on the art. Akpan does an incredible job creating a vivid world for us to fall into. The foliage and lighting are beautiful. All of it looks like concept art for a film. I can’t wait to see more divine creatures.

If you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed reading Iyanu and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next volume. It’s rated as an all ages comic and while I feel the story can appeal to anyone who leans towards fantasy, I do think younger kids will have a harder time unless parents are reading along with them. Kids 9+ years old will be able to follow along just fine. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy.

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