Graphic Novel Review: Daughters of Snow & Cinders by Núria Tamarit
Posted on September 12, 2023 at 6:19 am by Gene Ambaum
Daughters of Snow & Cinders by Núria Tamarit. Translated by Jenna Allen. Fantagraphics, 2023. 9781683967569. 212pp.
This book stands out on graphic novel shelves; it has so much shelf appeal that I’ve picked it up over and over and flipped through it to look at the colors and drawings. The pages that show the northern lights were my favorites before I started reading it.
Men are searching for gold, and two women caught up in that search are the center of the book. Joanna is looking for gold herself; she trades everything she has for supplies and a chance to join an expedition. After she’s rejected because she’s a woman, she meets Tala, who tells her about the only group that will accept her, Matwei’s. Then they leave without her and Tala. Both head out after the group on their own. Joanna soon has a rescued dog, Peg, accompanying her. Tala finds the group and they accept her as a tracker, though Matwei threatens her. The men in the group go a bit crazy when Joanna tries to rejoin the group, too. And then just after they threaten to eat Joanna’s dog a giant wolf attacks. (This surprised me even though I did see the cover.)
This becomes a story of survival and cruelty (via Matwei and other men) and eventually of friendship between the young women. Joanna spends a significant portion of the book remembering her homeland, which she idealizes but which has something seriously dark about it. (It feels like something awful happened there, and the truth is revealed throughout the book.) Even when the two women find gold (a late moment in the story shown early in the book) it’s unclear if the men will let them keep it or if they’ll be able to earn money from it.
Throughout, the beauty of Joanna’s home and the wilderness are amazing whether it’s the focus or just background details.