ARC Review: Stage Dreams by Melanie Gillman

Stage Dreams

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In this rollicking queer western adventure, acclaimed cartoonist Melanie Gillman (Stonewall Award Honor Book As the Crow Flies) puts readers in the saddle alongside Flor and Grace, a Latinx outlaw and a trans runaway, as they team up to thwart a Confederate plot in the New Mexico Territory. When Flor–also known as the notorious Ghost Hawk–robs the stagecoach that Grace has used to escape her Georgia home, the first thing on her mind is ransom. But when the two get to talking about Flor’s plan to crash a Confederate gala and steal some crucial documents, Grace convinces Flor to let her join the heist.

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I read a few reviews for this graphic novel across the blogosphere and was interested in it, especially because I’m always on the lookout for new discoveries. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a western, so I decided to give it a try.

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As it’s just 100 pages long, I didn’t expect a lot of plot or character development, just something fun – and it totally delivered on that aspect. Grace is a trans southern belle running from her family because she doesn’t wanna fight in the war and has dreams of her own, while Flor is the stylish queer Latinx outlaw who robs stagecoaches and wants to save money for a secure future. Though Flor kidnaps Grace, they eventually settle on a plan to work together and what follows is a cute adventure of their own where they discover some truths about themselves and develop feelings in the process. This story is hella cute and sweet, and so full of acceptance that it made me very happy. The art style is also very unique, and while I didn’t know anything about how colored pencil art would work for a graphic novel, it’s perfect here. The color palette and style feel very appropriate for the dry New Mexico setting, while also giving out a cutesy vibe. And I especially loved the cotillion gowns.

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Finally, I just wanna say that if you love westerns or queer graphic novels, you should definitely check this one out because it’ll leave you with a big smile on your face. Just go into it without any expectations and ready to have a rollicking time.

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PS: Thank you to Netgalley and Lerner Publishing Group for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

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