Acclaimed Lumberjanes author Lilah Sturges is writing the graphic novel she wishes she had growing up. The Beat is proud to announce Girl Haven, and to share a 9-page preview of the forthcoming graphic novel. Published in partnership with Oni-Lion Forge, Girl Haven is a middle-grade fantasy comic with a focus on LGBTQIA+ themes and trans identity. To tell the story, Sturges is working with Take Off​ and ​Godslave creator/artist Meaghan Carter and Mooncakes letterer Joamette Gil.

Girl Haven follows Ash, a young kid who’s mostly been called a boy – but will dabble with nail polish when given the opportunity. Three years ago, Ash’s mother left home. She promised she’d be back in just a few days, but she hasn’t made any contact, and Ash’s dad is ready to move on and get rid of her shed full of stuff. Tucked within, though, are all of Ash’s mom’s mystical curiosities, including all the baubles related to Koretris, the all-girl fantasy world she invented as a kid. When Ash brings the Pride Club home for a meeting and they try out an entry spell, they’re shocked to discover it works and Koretris really exists. There, they make new friends, defend their newfound home, and try to figure out what it means that Ash exists in a world where only girls are allowed.

The graphic novel features a diverse, queer cast of characters, written with the hope that readers can explore their own gender and how it makes sense to them. Sturges says in a statement:

“​Girl Haven​ is the book I wish I’d had when I was in middle school. The book is for anyone who loves a fantasy adventure, but it has a special message for young trans kids—that they are okay, that they are allowed to be who they are and also to be confused sometimes, and that they are worthy of love and friendship.”

Carter adds:

“The ​Girl Haven​ team and story has been such a thrill to work with, and I’m so thankful Lilah let me help bring this story to life. ​Girl Haven​ has a world with so much life, heart, and sword fights! It’s a beautiful message for trans kids, wrapped up in a fantasy adventure.”

Girl Haven will be available in stores and online on February 9, 2021. Check out the nine-page preview for the book, as well as the full announcement, below, and check back as the release date draws closer for an interview with Sturges herself, right here at The Beat.

“Three years ago, Ash’s mom left home and never returned, leaving behind a husband and child and a shed full of mystical curiosities related to the all-girl fantasy world she’d created as a child—Koretris. One day, Ash invites a new group of female friends from the school’s Pride Club over, and they try one of the spells to enter Koretris. To their amazement, they’re all transported to a magical realm filled with human-sized talking animals who are fiercely protective of their world and are ready to fight to defend it.

But if Koretris is real, why is Ash there? Everyone has always called Ash a boy—shouldn’t the spell have kept Ash out? And what does it mean if it let Ash in? ​With a diverse and queer cast of characters, ​Girl Haven​ takes place in that strange, special time of life when every young person is on the verge of discovering who they are—and what they want for themselves.”

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