Ottawa native Jo Rioux is a talented and versatile artist whose illustrative work ranges from manga-inspired drawings to softer, more delicately rendered images. With the release of the first instalment in the Cat’s Cradle series of graphic novels, she proves she is also a gifted storyteller.
Suri is a foundling living with a travelling merchant caravan in a world populated with monsters, giants, and witches. Mischievous and independent, Suri avoids her work in the bakery and instead charges other children for her tales of monsters.
Suri aspires to become a monster tamer. When a new caravan joins the merchants, she discovers its shadowy interior conceals a large and fearsome creature. On a bet, Suri confronts the monster and is successful in her attempt to control it, reinforcing her belief that her chosen path is the right one.
A chance encounter with a young seller later that day results in Suri becoming the unexpected owner of a piece of twine, upon which she strings a dragon tooth amulet for protection. When the boy returns that night, Suri doesn’t realize it is because the twine has magical powers and the boy is really a monster in disguise.
With a deft hand, Rioux balances art and narrative, the two elements working together to propel the tale with a mix of adventure, excitement, mystery, and humour. The artwork is detailed yet crisp and clean, in a style that shows manga influences but isn’t as exaggerated or dark as some graphic novels. This successful combination, along with a cliffhanger ending, makes The Golden Twine a highly accessible book, particularly for new readers of graphica.