Writer: Terry Blas/ Artist: Claudia Aguirre / Boom! Studios
It’s not your typical family vacation when Charlotte, and her adopted siblings Darwin and Olive find themselves falling into other worlds as they explore Grandma Lupé’s strange hotel. — Hotel Dare
The Dare Family
Charlotte and adopted siblings Darwin and Olive are forced to spend their summer with their estranged Grandmother at her run down and very creepy hotel, in Hotel Dare a graphic novel from Boom! Studios. The trio of kids is bored out of their mind doing chores. Young Charlotte isn’t taking well to her new family bonds, and older sister Olive is dead set on figuring out why their father and grandmother’s relationship went sour. Thanks to inquisitive Charlotte, a simple dare of going into Mama Lupe’s forbidden locked office has them stumbling upon an incredible secret… the hotel has rooms that can transport folks to other realms, other worlds. This activates a struggle across worlds and unearths a family secret that is an adventure in the making.
It’s a treat to see blended families and children of color in comics in nuanced and thoughtful representations. A Latinx family is infrequently the center of a book by a major comics publication. Terry Blas (Dead Weight, The Amazing World of Gumball) spins a narrative about siblings exploring not just new and exciting places — like a world of magic users or a pirate space ship of some kind — but also exploring what family means to them and the growing pains that come with it. I loved seeing the sprinkling of Spanish in the text bubbles throughout the book. I loved seeing visibly brown kids not in the background and their cultural heritage seen clear as day on the page as elaborated more by the writer Blas here.
Claudia Aguirre (Kim & Kim) is masterful in her illustrating of this tale. Everything from the character designs to the full-paged spreads of wonderful settings are expertly done. There’s peeks at the interior of Mama Lupe’s locked office to sights from other places not near and very far away. There are layers to the eye candy with coloring that defines whole pages and moods and a lettering job that emphasizes the emotions of certain scenes. Her lines are solid, characters stand out from each other, and are unique. Her art style overall is easy on the eyes in a vibrant way. See Aguirre draw up my favorite Dare sibling, the fiercely protective older sibling, Olive here.
“We’re stronger than an army, we’re family.”
I wasn’t prepared for the unraveling of the plot. There is a family secret held by Mama Lupe that is a drama bomb, the writing had me so emotionally invested. There’s a cast of intriguing supporting characters of all shapes and sizes, not just humans, that add to the richness of the story. I was so pleasantly surprised to learn that the definition of hero doesn’t just apply to boys or male figures or even age, reconciliation is not easy but can be worked towards, and fighting for your family means doing what can be thought of as impossible: jumping into different worlds and stomping on your fears.
With a satisfying, yet slightly rushed ending that wraps up a lot more plot threads then I expected, Hotel Dare is an all-new original graphic novel that delves into fantasy that is all ages appropriate and quite heartwarming. I’m glad that I took the chance and opened the door to this read that features a Mexican abuelita, space travel, weird creatures, and a diverse family that you’ll be rooting for. While Hotel Dare was a slow starter and took a minute for me to get immersed in, the plot twists helped give the book the emotionally depth that ties family and interdimensional travel together quite nicely with a bow.
8 Pieces of Magic Masks Out Of 10