THE TEA DRAGON FESTIVAL Review: Life Lessons, Adorable Characters

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Written & Drawn by Katie O’Neill.

Big thanks to Netgalley & Oni Press for providing a copy of The Tea Dragon Festival for review!

The Tea Dragon Festival

After reading The Tea Dragon Society a few months ago, I was so happy to learn that Katie O’Neill wrote a second book in the Tea Dragon series. The Tea Dragon Festival was equally as beautiful and powerful as its predecessor. The lessons it teaches are somewhat more nuanced, which I loved. The characters are all so adorable, and O’Neill includes elements in this book I have never seen in a graphic novel before, like sign language.

As you can tell from the cover art, a new type of dragon is introduced in The Tea Dragon Society. While all of the dragons in the first book were quite lil, the follow-up features a full-size dragon who can change forms. He has a very interesting history, and it’s fascinating to watch him learn more about the human world throughout the story.

The main character, Rinn (they/them), also learns a lot about themself throughout the book. They feel trapped in the everyday minutia of daily life, and struggle to find purpose and meaning in their work. This is a struggle most readers will relate to on some level, and I found it really beautiful to see how Rinn dealt with their feelings.

There isn’t much more I can say about O’Neill’s artistry that I haven’t already said in my Aquicorn Cove review. Each character is rendered with so much heart and life. I would love to step into one of her books and find a new home among the tea dragons.

There are a lot of other deep ideas that shine through Tea Dragon Festival; self-acceptance is a big one. Another theme I found particularly powerful is accepting the limits of others. The limits of someone who experienced a trauma may be different from my own in the same way the limits of a dragon differ from those of a human. This book portrays this idea in a beautiful and clear way. I love how O’Neill continues to inject these powerful messages in her books.

If cute and quirky is your genre (or you’d like it to be!) I highly recommend adding one of O’Neill’s books to your reading list asap. If you’ve read one already I would love to hear from you on Twitter and Instagram!

The Tea Dragon Festival is available for preorder now wherever books are sold, and hits shelves on September 17th.

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