Michael Adam Lengyel

Kirkus Review of The Mannamong – Volume 1

THE MANNAMONG
Volume 1
Written and Illus. by Michael Adam Lengyel
$14.99 paperback
ISBN: 9781732563230
February 28, 2024

An engaging tale that offers fantastical storytelling and hair-raising adventure.

In Lengyel’s graphic novel for children, a precocious young girl discovers a hidden world of magical spirits—and accidentally brings one back with her into her own world.

Eight-year-old Kali Teal has felt ill for as long as she can remember. Doctors have never been able to figure out what’s wrong, and no medicine seems to help. One stormy night, while driving to the hospital with her mom, a feverish Kali finds herself whisked away to the land of the Mannamong—nature spirits she knows from her mother’s bedtime stories. In this new place, she meets Gisenes, the daughter of Mother Nature, who reveals that a Mannamong named Tontorus has been hiding inside her and is responsible for her illness. Gisenes and the other Mannamong manage to imprison Tontorus, and Kali returns to the real world completely healed. Just as her life is beginning to return to normal, however, she learns that Tontorus somehow returned with her, and his curse threatens to transform her into a pointy-eared, fox-tailed creature, much like Tontorus himself. Soon, she’s on a quest with a Mannamong named Blitzstreak to find a mysterious pearl in a race against time to separate Kali’s soul from Tontorus forever. Lengyel delivers a delightful adventure that’s full of whimsy, with just a touch of scariness to keep young readers on the edge of their seats. Kali is a courageous hero whose hot temper gets her into trouble from time to time, but her bravery and resourcefulness make her easy to root for. The plot moves at a brisk pace, but the detailed worldbuilding and well-developed characters keep the story from losing focus. The rich Mannamong mythology matches perfectly with Lengyel’s vibrant, full-color cartoon illustrations. The author deftly mixes a bit of manga style with influences drawn from Mesoamerican art, arriving at an offbeat aesthetic that’s full of passion and playfulness. This first volume in a series ends on a cliffhanger, but the author offers tantalizing clues to what may be in store for Kali down the road.

An engaging tale that offers fantastical storytelling and hair-raising adventure.

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