Princess of Power

pocahontasPocahontas: Princess of the New World by Loïc Locatelli-Lournwsky, translated by Sandra Smith. Pegasus Books, 2016. 9781681772172.

Locatelli-Lournwsky’s retelling of the story of Pocahontas (also known as Matoaka) opens with her becoming a woman and getting married, though she is still treated like a child. Trying to teach herself to hunt, she is injured and rescued by John Smith. After they are found her people want to kill Smith but she intercedes and saves his life. From that day forth she is called Pocahontas, which the book translates as “shameless whore.” Smith returns to Jamestown where Pocahontas visits frequently and learns English. As the white men continue cut down trees and destroy the forest, moving ever closer to the Natives and affecting their ability to hunt, tensions rise. When the Natives are about to attack the settlement she warns Smith in an effort to save lives on both sides, but loses her place among her people because of it. She moves into a different settlement, converts to Christianity, and marries a widower. She is eventually taken to England where she is presented at court.

This graphic novel’s setting and subject matter reminded me of Nick Bertozzi’s epic Lewis & Clark, though this feels like more story than history. This version of Pocahontas is an expressive, strong character quietly determined to move forward despite the difficulties of her life. She pulled me through the story as much as Locatelli-Lournwsky’s artwork — he uses one color, an orangish yellow, along with black, to create a sense of everything from the wild forests of North America to the formality of the English court.

Have a look at some pages from this book.