“You two must learn to work together to make a harmony of nature, not just for your sakes… but for all the little beings who dwell in your realm” — Queen Mother, No One Returns from the Enchanted Forest, p. 194
|Environmental Themes and Issues||Anthropomorphism, Earthquakes, Flood, Hostile Environment, Natural Disaster|
|Protagonist’s Identity||Bix: A female goblin with gray skin and dark hair|
|Protagonist’s Level of Environmental Agency||Level 3: Moderate, Plot-Driven Environmental Agency|
|Target Audience||Middle Grade|
|Settings||Fictional Teacup Island|
Robin Robinson’s graphic novel No One Returns from the Enchanted Forest centers on protagonist Pella and her little sister Bix, two young goblins who live in an underground goblin city on the fantastical Teacup Island. The city has been damaged by a series of dangerous earthquakes, which goblin legends attribute to the anger of the mythical Earth Queen. The two sisters’ parents died in a previous earthquake, leaving Pella to assume the role of the head of the household. Three days before the annual Midsummer Festival, another earthquake strikes and almost collapses the underground cavern where the goblins reside. The city decides to cancel the Midsummer Festival and evacuate to the mountains on the far side of the island. Instead of joining the departing goblins, however, rebellious Bix decides to confront the Earth Queen and put a stop to the earthquakes. She sneaks away from the goblin city into the surrounding Enchanted Forest, where deadly animals and plants wait to consume unwitting intruders. When Pella discovers that Bix has left, she overcomes her own anxieties and follows her sister into the forest in hopes of rescuing the young goblin.
In the forest, Pella encounters dangerous terrain and predatory mythical creatures. Cici, a pink skinned tree troll, saves her from falling into a raging river. Like Pella and Bix, Cici has also lost her family and home during a flood caused by the Water Queen, the Earth Queen’s sister. Pella and Cici decide to team up to find Bix. Meanwhile, Bix has been taken captive by the Earth Queen. She discovers that the Earth Queen and the Water Queen have intentionally caused the destructive earthquakes and floods as they compete for the approval of their Queen Mother. Bix convinces the Earth Queen that she should divide the island in half so that the legendary sisters no longer need to share the space. The Earth Queen decides to take Bix to meet the Queen Mother during her annual appearance during the Midsummer Festival so that the young goblin can propose her plan.
As Pella and Cici continue their search for Bix, they fall into a river and get swept to the home of the Water Queen. To their horror, they discover that this legendary entity has been collecting residents of the island in bubbles, where they remain frozen in a deep sleep. The Water Queen takes the two girls to meet her mother and the Earth Queen, who brings the captive Bix. The Queen Mother expresses her anger at her two daughters’ continued feud. As punishment, she threatens to destroy the island and all of its inhabitants so that the Earth and Water Queens must rebuild it. However, Pella intervenes and convinces the Queen Mother that she should spare the island and make her daughters atone for their destruction. She says, “Instead of punishing us for what they did, or letting them off the hook with no consequences… what if they had to fix all the damage they di? There is so much good we could accomplish if we had your daughters’ powers to help. Please let us teach your daughters how to serve this island” (Robinson 206-7). The Queen Mother agrees to the plan, and Pella resolves to form a representative council of the island’s inhabitants to coordinate the repairs. The comic concludes with Pella, Bix, and Cici traveling back to the goblins and organizing a Midsummer Festival. They resolve to work together with the Queens to rebuild the island.
The comic’s backmatter includes a two page “Bestiary” that includes illustrations and facts about Teacup Island’s fantastical inhabitants. For instance, the Bestiary describes the Stalking Heron as “a voracious hunter,” noting that “the female heron is the top of the food chain in the enchanted forest, with legs the size of tree trunks!” (Robison backmatter).