I meant to post this review last Friday, but due to a family issue, had to postpone it until today. But since I’m actually reviewing three books at once, I think I can get away with it this time! Today, I’ll be reviewing all three graphic novels in the Tea Dragon series by K. O’Neill: The Tea Dragon Society, The Tea Dragon Festival, and The Tea Dragon Tapestry.
I learned about The Tea Dragon Society by watching BookTube videos. So many bookish content creators raved about this book and the rest of the series because of how adorable the illustration style is and the calm and soothing nature of the stories. I was definitely intrigued by what I’d heard, but I eventually forgot about this series over time.
Then, just a few weeks ago, I saw that all three books in the series were available to rent on Kindle Unlimited! So of course, I downloaded the first book and then read the whole series in very quick succession. Since they are graphic novels, I was able to read each one in just a morning or two. I also skimmed through them all a second time so I could enjoy the illustrations again and think about the stories once more.
From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.
After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.
From Goodreads for The Tea Dragon Society
Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.
From Goodreads for The Tea Dragon Festival
Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.
Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth.
From Goodreads for The Tea Dragon Tapestry
Everyone who raved about the illustrations were absolutely right! The colors and style were really visually appealing and calming. I don’t have a lot of experience with reading graphic novels, but these have to be some of the most beautiful out there.
I was expecting the content of the stories to be much more juvenile, but they really aren’t. Nor are they too mature for young audiences. The themes explored are very universal.
What I Liked
As I’ve already mentioned, the illustrations were wonderful. The tea dragons were especially adorable! And each book really focused on the beauty of the natural landscapes surrounding the main settings. I love K. O’Neill’s style and I’m curious to see her other work after reading this series.
Another great thing about these books was the diversity. There were characters of different races, characters with disabilities, and characters with different gender expressions and sexualities. All were included in a very respectful and unsensational manner, which I appreciated.
I also loved that, while there were issues each character had to deal with, there weren’t any stressful or exciting conflicts, which made the reading experience feel rather tranquil and healing. The characters dealt with issues like grief, belonging, community, and sense of self, all of which I found very relatable and helpful to contemplate in my own life.
What I Didn’t
This may be a little bit of a spoiler, but one of the main characters, Minette, apparently suffers from memory loss. However, she keeps talking about her previous life, and it didn’t make any sense to me how she could know anything about her previous life if she forgot everything. It’s something that bugged me right off the bat in the first book, and returned to haunt me again in the third.
I also noticed that the illustration style changed a bit by the third book. It was still beautiful but there was something ever-so-slightly less charming about the look of the third book (maybe it was the eyes?), and Minette was really orange the entire time. It’s such a stupid thing to nitpick, but it did bother me. 😅
I also wish that the magic of the tea dragons’ tea was somehow more impactful to the stories. In the first and third books, the tea seemed to be an afterthought and didn’t add much to the stories. Only in the second book did the tea play a much larger role, which is why it was my favorite of the three.
My Star Ratings
Overall, I really enjoyed this series and would recommend it to anyone who needs a short respite from the chaos of daily life. I’m glad I was able to read these books when I did, because they came to me at a very appropriate moment in my life.
Let me know in the comments, do you enjoy graphic novels, and have you read this series yet?
Thanks for reading!