STARRED REVIEW
August 2022

Crumbs

By Danie Stirling
Danie Stirling’s debut graphic novel is a cozy, poignant and lightly fantastical story about protecting your happiness and choosing your path in life.
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Ray is a seer, but instead of visions of what’s to come, she sees the truth of the present—the way things really are. Her rare ability has made her a pragmatist and a realist, but it’s also left her lonely. Ray believes her ability precludes her from forming close relationships, so she avoids physical contact and romantic endeavors. Instead, her goal is to become a member of the Council, the ruling body of the magical world, so she can use her gift to help others and eventually learn to see the future. When she needs a break, Ray slips into her favorite bakery, a place where emotions are magically baked into every sweet treat.

Laurie desperately wants to be a musician. Between unsuccessful auditions, he works at his aunt’s bakery, smiling at the cute girl who comes in every day for tea and a pastry. Masking his own insecurities and grief with that smile, Laurie strikes up an easy friendship with Ray, which soon gives way to flirtation and the possibility of a deeper connection. For the first time, Ray wants to give romance a shot, but if she joins the Council, she’ll be erased from the memories of everyone she knows and loves. Does dedicating her life to helping others mean giving up on her own dreams?

The web comic that would become Crumbs saw massive popularity on the online comics platform WebToon before being acquired for publication, and it's easy to see why. Danie Stirling offers a warm and lightly fantastical slice-of-life tale about choosing your path. As Laurie and Ray navigate their new relationship, they must also traverse the nebulous transition to adulthood and the many choices that come with it.

Stirling’s art style is sweet and fluffy, all rounded edges and soft lighting. Though it’s not a manga aesthetic, the characters’ expressiveness and frequently glittering eyes will resonate with anime fans. The illustrations exude as much warmth as the story, with subtle visual renderings of magic that become sweet garnishes atop a richer cake. 

Crumbs’ cozy vibes will attract fans of Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu’s Mooncakes, but its emotional complexity will keep them turning the pages. Within the narrative framework of a rom-com, Stirling has written a poignant book about the danger of putting others’ happiness before your own, the burnout that can come from idealism and working in public service, and the realization that no one is ever given a single path to follow. As Ray learns to summon visions of the future, she must also learn to see them for what they are: potential futures in a universe of limitless possibilities. 

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Crumbs

Crumbs

By Danie Stirling
Clarion
ISBN 9780358467816

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