Brutal foxes bid to take over a power plant run by meek rabbits in this elaborately envisioned animal fantasy.
In the isolated land of Lavender, magical “cha” refined from carrots not only provides energy, but infuses art objects called “thokchas” with mystical power; it also, at least for the predatory foxes, acts as a hallucinogenic drug. In an effort to enslave the “cottons” that run the cha factory, sly silver fox Sylvan bargains with dark forces to draw the terrifying Broken Feather King down from the celestial Empyrean realm. Meanwhile Bridgebelle, an orphaned cotton who yearns to be an artist, and her increasingly close friend Glee discover that they have a key and a clue that may temporarily derail the vulpine villain’s plots. Pascoe expends little effort fleshing out his characters or their daily lives but positively lavishes attention on catastrophic backstories and on the rites and beliefs of the rabbits’ mystical religion. In shadowy panels (some gory, others awash in murky swirls of evil) punctuated by dazzling bursts of magical lightning, Arnhold depicts mostly realistic animals that are unclothed and, despite some distinguishing features, hard to tell apart. Monochrome pages of explication at the end fill in some gaps; future episodes may fill in more—along with kick-starting a plot that barely gets underway amid all the setup.
Labored in spots but a promising kickoff carried by atmospheric art and a large, furry cast. (map, guide to world and characters) (Graphic animal fantasy. 10-13)