LGBT BOOK REVIEW: Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker (Sapphic Reader Challenge)

A book cover states, Mooncakes, and includes an illustration of a witch making sweets and a werewolf locking a spoon. The text states, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker.

Welcome to another LGBT book review! All reviews touch on genre/plot, tropes (if any), quality of LGBT content, and avoid most spoilers. Catch up on my last book review of Stand-up (Comedy) for Introverts by Johvan Calvo. You can find all LGBT book reviews here.

I read Mooncakes as part of Jae’s Sapphic Reader Challenge. Read 10 (or more) sapphic books in 2021 to participate! You can read Jae’s full rules and guidelines on her website.

Mooncakes fits into the following categories for the Sapphic Reader Challenge:

  • Return to hometown
  • Character with a disability or mental illness
  • Speculative fiction
  • Friends-to-lovers romance

Mooncakes also fits into the following “Unicorn” bonus challenge category:

  • Sapphic nonbinary character

LGBT Book, Mooncakes: Light spoilers

Genre/Plot

In this young adult fantasy graphic novel (that’s right! AL&HL reviews its first graphic novel!), Mooncakes tells the story of two supernaturally-gifted sapphic people as the werewolf reconnects with their childhood witchy friend in order to defeat a demon amongst pages of beautifully crafted and designed art.

Characters/Relationships

The werewolf, Tam, is a nonbinary character who uses they/them pronouns! (That’s right! AL&HL reviews its first book with a nonbinary character!) The story implies that the witch, Nova, is bi or pan, although no labels are used for any character. Nova also has two witchy grandmas, so the bookshop they run together is one, big, sapphic household. Tam and Nova restore the bond they had in their childhood and begin a romantic relationship.

Gay Content

Just about all of the content in Mooncakes is exceptionally queer in nature, from witchy aesthetics to lycanthropy as a metaphor for between binaries; however, the graphic novel allows queer content to exist in the story without calling any qualities into question. The only moment of questioning points to Tam’s pronouns, switched from their childhood use of she/her, to which every character in the book changes accordingly without any other comment.

Tam and Nova quickly jump into a relationship which seems very reflective of most sapphics.

LGBT Book, Mooncakes: Spoilers Ahead

With Mooncakes, I’d been particularly impressed with how many socially inclusive details made it into the story without it every feeling heavy-loaded or performative. In addition to the first story I’ve read with a character using they/them pronouns, it was also the first story I’ve read that included a character with hearing aids. In the story, Nova even uses her hearing aids as part of an innovative spell to escape a villain.

Mooncakes also includes commentary on having parents that passed away at a young age, homelessness, single motherhood, and one of my personal favorite, a young adult living at home and feeling too inadequate to start their “real” life (personal favorite because I am a young adult living at home and feeling too inadequate to start my “real” life). The story met each facet with simple, ordinary inclusion. One would say it served as a normalizing quality.

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