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Review: Blackwater by Jeannette Arroyo and Ren Graham

Thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I am an avid lover of paranormal and mystery type books, which is what originally drew me to this book. Blackwater by Jeannette Arroyo and Ren Graham is a contemporary paranormal graphic novel which follows two beautifully illustrated supernatural boys, a werewolf running amok in the woods, problematic parents and a pinch of high school drama. I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel! I devoured it in one sitting, as I do many graphic novels and had a good time doing so. Check out my full review below to read my thoughts!


Blackwater by Jeanette Arroyo and Ren Graham
Overall Rating ✩✩✩✩
Published by Macmillan Children's Publishing Group on July 19, 2022
Genres: contemporary, paranormal, young adult
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble
Content Warning: bullying, ableism, violence, animal carcass shown on-page, homophobia, and gore

Riverdale meets Stranger Things in this debut queer YA graphic novel, developed from a hit webcomic. Set in the haunted town of Blackwater, Maine, two boys fall for each other as they dig for clues to a paranormal mystery.

Tony Price is a popular high school track star and occasional delinquent aching for his dad’s attention and approval. Eli Hirsch is a quiet boy with a chronic autoimmune disorder that has ravaged his health and social life. What happens when these two become unlikely friends (and a whole lot more . . .) in the spooky town of Blackwater, Maine? Werewolf curses, unsavory interactions with the quarterback of the football team, a ghostly fisherman haunting the harbor, and tons of high school drama.


I Liked…

I really loved both co-creators’ illustration styles and the way they alternated for each chapter was unusual, but quite original and unique. It really is a brilliant technique and it managed to make the story a lot more fun.

I also really enjoyed the paranormal aspect of this book. All the ghosts, werewolves and magic going on in this small town was so much fun and intriguing. The plot was surprisingly developed for such a short book, and I think it was set up perfectly for more books to come surrounding Blackwater.

One more thing that I loved! I really enjoyed the representation in this graphic novel. One of the characters, Eli, is transgender as well as is dealing with an autoimmune disease. Not only do I love to see disability representation, but someone very close to me struggles with an autoimmune disease so it hit very close to home reading about Eli’s experience.

I Didn't Like…

The one thing that made this a 4 star instead of a 5 star is because the book was so short, I think a few plot points were rushed and undeveloped. Not to the point where it was to the detriment of the book, but it was definitely a consideration while deciding on my rating.

The narration and the plot proceeded very quickly. I do love fast paced adventures, but I would have preferred exploring the backstory of both boys and the town a little bit more. However, Arroyo and Graham could easily continue the mysterious and thrilling adventures of the people in the little town of Blackwater and perhaps even continue the boys’ narrative arc.


Blackwater was a quick and engaging reading experience I wholeheartedly recommend! It was a fun time and I loved the characters. I definitely recommend this if you want to read something intriguing and with great illustrations.


Have you read Blackwater, or do you want to? What’s the latest YA contemporary you've read? Let me know in the comments!



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