With Wonder Woman currently blowing up the box office, it’s a good time for stories about young women learning how to fight for themselves in a society that doesn’t want them to reach their full potential. That’s a major aspect of Knife’s Edge, the second installment in writer Hope Larson and artist Rebecca Mock’s Four Points series of graphic novels from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. The first book, Compass South, was a thrilling start to the story of 12-year-old twins in 1860 that get swept up on an international treasure hunt, and now, after reuniting with their long-missing father, the twins are embarking on the next stage of their adventure as a complete family. Hope Larson has crafted a narrative rooted in complex emotional bonds, anchored by the experience of Cleo, the female twin who impersonates a boy for most of Compass South. Getting a taste of a boy’s life liberates Cleo and inspires her to break through the limitations placed on her by society, but now that the impersonation is over, Cleo is expected to return to her complacent state.
This exclusive preview of Knife’s Edge spotlights this conflict as Cleo starts to learn sword fighting, and while her brother and father respond to her training with condescending dismissal, she’s committed to becoming a fighter. Rebecca Mock has done extraordinary work drawing the reader deep into this time period with the detail she puts in her line work and designs, but this preview is primarily driven by her talent for expressive, engaging characters and crisp movement. There’s a lot of energy in Cleo and Tarboro’s training session, and the visuals capture the sense of excitement Cleo feels when she’s allowed to let this aggressive side of herself out. She wants to be able to defend herself, but you also get the sense that she’s having a lot of fun, even when she’s getting knocked on her ass. Her new sword-fighting skills will come in handy given this group’s tendency to run into trouble, and readers can join Cleo and her family on this treacherous journey when Knife’s Edge goes on sale June 28.