Fans of witchcraft literature will appreciate the book’s respectful approach; let’s just say—it’s spellbinding.

SHADOW OF DARKNESS

A woman’s tormented by a malevolent spirit that’s made its way from 17th-century Salem in search of revenge.

Diane, a bartender at a go-go club, is looking for her missing friend, Alicia. She uses her psychic abilities and witchcraft to conclude that a book of spells she’d bought—the Book of Shadows—has brought an evil spirit into the present day. Diane travels via hypnosis to 1692 Salem to stop the wicked Joshua and save her friend. But something’s not right when she returns, especially with her fiancé, Anthony, the detective she met while looking for Alicia. The author’s simple, breezy prose reads as young adult, but its mature themes seem appropriate for older readers, particularly since no teen protagonists are present. Regardless, the book’s topic will undoubtedly attract younger bibliophiles, and the novel wouldn’t be unsuitable, since there’s nary a sex scene and violence is typically described after the fact. The journey to old Salem is a turning point and splits the novel in two parts. The first zeroes in on solving the mystery of Alicia’s disappearance and ensuing attacks, as well as a murder, but it’s bogged down by Diane and Anthony’s zigzagging relationship. Anthony is protective but unsupportive; he laughs every time Diane mentions the supernatural. The book, however, flourishes in its 17th-century setting. The dialogue assumes a colonial dialect; for example, a new love interest of Diane’s says, “Thou hast come to join us.” Back in the present day, Anthony besieges Diane with questionable, sometimes aggressive behavior, a strange woman tries to contact her and images of her friends turn monstrous. The novel’s latter half ups the creepiness by saturating the pages in atmosphere, making great use of the cold, snowy outdoors, and portraying Diane in a perpetual dreamlike state.

Fans of witchcraft literature will appreciate the book’s respectful approach; let’s just say—it’s spellbinding.

Pub Date: July 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477618127

Page Count: 374

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2012

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THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

Of late, there have been many unsuccessful attempts to adapt Shakespeare into the graphic-novel format; Hinds’s beautiful new offering now sets the standard that all others will strive to meet. Presenting readers with deftly drawn characters (based on live models) and easily read dialogue that modulates over the course of the work from adapted prose to the original Shakespeare, he re-works the classic Shakespeare play of deception, greed and revenge. Though located in a modern setting, readers will easily follow the premise and find themselves lost in the intricately lovely Venetian backdrop. While this adaptation may leave purists sniffing at the omission of entire scenes and characters, Hinds carefully explains to his readers in a note why and how he made those choices. A deceptively simple graphic novel on the surface, this volume begs for multiple readings on a closer level, at the same time acting as a wonderful introduction to the original. Easily on a par with his stellar adaptation of Beowulf (2007), it’s a captivating, smartly executed work. (Graphic novel. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3024-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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Intriguing and accessible, this thought-provoking tale will be new to many.

THE DAUGHTERS OF YS

An ancient Breton folktale finds new life as a graphic novel.

King Gradlon won his wife’s hand by murdering her first husband. Upon her mysterious death, their two daughters, Rozenn and Dahut, are sickened by their father’s debauchery and consumed by grief. Several pages of wordless panels show the girls growing up and growing apart. Rozenn retreats to the countryside, meets Corentin, a “holy hermit,” and falls in love with a fisherman. Dahut commits herself to learning her mother’s magic, including seducing, murdering, and sacrificing a string of young men to protect the city. Dahut’s ultimate betrayal of her sister brings about the deadly denouement. Anderson drew on multiple sources to retell this story of Ys, a “famed city of pleasures” stolen from the sea and doomed to destruction. Overtones of other tales, from the lost land of Lyonesse to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, echo through the pages of this morality tale. Blood and betrayal permeate the plot while natural sounding dialogue and perfect pacing draw readers along smoothly. Rioux’s art adds a suitably Celtic feel, with swirling patterns, medieval costumes, and a red-haired sorceress at its center. While nudity and sexual activity both occur, as do beheadings and drowning, neither the text nor the pictures are particularly explicit. Main characters are white; clothing and textual references indicate contact with Near and Far Eastern nations.

Intriguing and accessible, this thought-provoking tale will be new to many. (source note) (Graphic fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-878-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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