Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges, Meaghan Carter (Illustrations)

When seventh-grader Ash, his crush Eleanor, and their friends are transported to a girls-only imaginary world, Ash must come to terms with the fact that he may actually be a transgender girl. Full of wonder, humour, and heart, Girl Haven is the newest original story from the author of Lumberjanes.

Three years ago, Ash’s mom, Kristin, left home and never came back. Now, Ash lives in the house where Kristin grew up. All of her things are there. Her old room, her old clothes, and the shed, where she spent her childhood creating a fantasy world called Koretris.

Ash knows all about Koretris: how it’s a haven for girls, with no men or boys allowed, and filled with fanciful landscapes and creatures. When Ash’s friends decide to try going to Koretris, using one of Kristin’s spellbooks, Ash doesn’t think anything will happen. But the spell works, and Ash discovers that the world Kristin created is actually a real place, with real inhabitants and very real danger.

But if Koretris is real, why is Ash there? Everyone has always called Ash a boy. Ash uses he/him pronouns. Shouldn’t the spell have kept Ash out? And what does it mean if it let Ash in?

How did I get the book? Netgalley, thank you Oni Press

Genre: Graphic Novel, LGBTQIA

Review: I sat a little on this review because I wasn’t sure where to start. When I first saw the synopsis on Netgalley I was excited and happy to get approved. I read Girl Haven in one sitting and at the end it I was a bit “huh”.

Girl Haven isn’t terrible but also it isn’t what I was expecting. The premise is great, it is a book that deals with gender identity and finding yourself in a fantasy setting. The scenes between Ash and Eleanor are lovely as well but, well there is a -but-

Since finishing this I’ve read other reviews and the points raised about the inconsistency in the art and choices in stereotyping which are valid. The story feels a bit rushed as well, I’m wondering length had been expanded that there would have been more opportunity for the fantasy element to be less hurried and a more nuanced exploration the emotional centre for Ash and her friends.

For me Girl Haven offers a lot of potential, but I felt a bit let down at the end. I didn’t dislike this book, but I hoped for more.

Review by: Luna

Expected publication: February 9th, 2021 by Oni Press


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