At Paste magazine, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers have announced the middle-grade graphic novel “The Deep & Dark Blue,” written and illustrated by the Lambda Literary Award-nominated Niki Smith. The fantasy book, due out in January, follows two exiled noble twins, Hawke and Grayson, who have to assume the new identities of Hanna and Grayce to survive.
According to the synopsis, “Desperation and chance lead them to the Communion of Blue, an order of magical women who spin the threads of reality to their will. As the twins learn more about the Communion, and themselves, they begin to hatch a plan to avenge their family and retake their royal home. While Hawke wants to return to his old life, Grayce struggles to keep the threads of her new life from unraveling, and realizes she wants to stay in the one place that will allow her to finally live as a girl.”
In a statement, Smith said that “growing up, I loved stories that played with gender — girls disguising themselves as boys to have adventures and live the lives they always wanted, as knights and pirates and soldiers!” However, she noticed “it was always girls who yearned to live the life of a boy, never the other way around,” which implied “the life of a girl was something dreary and full of tedious hobbies; something to escape. I wanted to write a system of magic with its roots deep in ‘women’s work’ — textiles, spindles and weaving, all powered by a mysterious, deep blue dye.”
Furthermore, “despite all the ‘gender bending,’ the queer undertones, the flirting while in disguise,” these stories always “end with a main character that’s firmly cis and straight. Even as a kid, I knew I wanted something more.” Here is a story where “for one twin, it’s no disguise. It’s the chance for a young trans girl to live as herself for the first time.” However, she asks, “Will Grayce have to give that up to help her brother, Hawke, reclaim their royal home?”
“The Deep & Dark Blue” is 256 pages long, and will be released on January 7, 2020. It is now available to preorder in paperback and hardback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.