Tim Leong
March 17, 2016 AT 05:56 PM EDT

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling

Current Status
In Season
Tony Cliff
First Second
Graphic Novel

We gave it an A-

Move over, Indiana Jones. In the second volume of his graphic-novel series, Cliff continues the tale of Delilah Dirk—adventurer, swordswoman, and overall instigator. Accompanied by her trusted friend and former Turkish lieutenant Erdemoglu Selim (who has the innate ability to MacGyver together the most delicious brew of tea), the two encounter a duplicitous British soldier who pins his extracurricular espionage on Dirk. Our heroine sets out to clear her name and track down the corrupt soldier so she can “beat the ever-loving tar out of him.” With gorgeous illustrations and clever writing, Cliff seamlessly blends action and comedy into a charming tale that is so much fun you’ll wish you brought popcorn.

At the heart of the story is the friendship between Dirk and Mr. Selim. The two have a partnership made of trust—one that doesn’t play on the will-they-won’t-they trope. Even when their journey forces them into unexpected roles, the only chemistry you worry about is what tea Selim is going to make. In between the sword fights, prison breaks, and horseback chases, there’s a touching story about identity and what it means to make a name for yourself. It’s one I’m going to set aside for my future kids to read. A–

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