Today I’m bringing you a review of the graphic novel Championess, a story centered around a mixed-raced female street fighter in eighteenth century London. I hope you enjoy and hopefully decide to check it out!
About the book
I received this book from NetGalley as an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Historical fiction, sports, young adult
Representation: Mixed-race protagonist, black secondary character
Content warning: Racism, violence, blood, death
Release date: April 13th (OUT ALREDY!)
Summary: Based on a true story, in eighteenth century London, Elizabeth Wilkinson struggles to make ends meet for her and her sister Tess while facing the fiercest female bare-knuckle boxers of her day.
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I picked this up because I thought a story based on true facts about a mixed-race street fighter would be a very interesting read and, thankfully, I was right. This dealt with a wide range of topics—from racism to debt—in a very beautiful way in a short time. The depiction of relationships, mixed with the intelligent pacing and gorgeous art made this a very engaging graphic novel.
My favourite part of this story has to be the relationships. We see our protagonist, Elizabeth, try to constantly protect her sister, Tess, from the debt collectors. In turn, we also get glimpses on how and why Tess ended up with such a large amount of debt to take care of Elizabeth. Besides this sisterly bond, we also see Elizabeth establish an unlikely alliance with a fellow street fighter, who acts as a mentor and friend. There are many types of relationships in this short graphic novel, and they’re all treated with the same care.
Additionally, I thought the pacing was just right. We have quite a few flashbacks where we discover more and more about Elizabeth’s life. In present-day, the book is structured as various countdowns to important events, which helps keep the reader engaged and wanting to read more to get to that point.
Finally, I need to talk about the art style. Championess is entirely drawn in black and white, which helps place yourself in the past as it immediately feels that we’re being pushed back in time. I really enjoyed the art style and I thought it worked perfectly with this story.
All in all, Championess is a highly enjoyable graphic novel. The fantastic representation of the different types of relationships, the clever use of flashbacks and pacing, and the stunning art style all work in unison to create this story. I would highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction and graphic novel readers!
About the authors
Tarun Shanker is a mild-mannered assistant by day and a milder-mannered writer by night, currently living in Boston. His idea of paradise is a place where kung-fu movies are projected on clouds, soul music fills the air and chai flows freely from the fountains.He is the co-author of Championess and the These Vicious Masks trilogy with Kelly Zekas.
Kelly Zekas lives in NYC with her dog and fiancé, splitting her time between working as an office manager by day and writer by night, weekend, and lunch break. When not working, she can be found at her boxing gym or devouring a romance novel. She is the co-author of the These Vicious Masks trilogy with Tarun Shanker.
Amanda Perez Puentes is a Venezuelan illustrator and comic artist. She received a BFA in Painting and Drawing from Concordia University in Montreal. She now lives in Toronto with her partner and two very spoiled rats.
Have you ever read a book about boxing? Do you like to read about sports? Leave me some recommendations down below!