Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Gwen de Bonnevail and Matthieu Bonhomme
Publisher: Graphic Universe
William’s father has died and his mother has remarried a power-hungry man. But William’s sister Helise insists that their father is not dead but lost in the world of spirits. After her disappearance, their stepfather Brifaut searches for her, but he quickly gives up this search and urges both William and his mother to move on. William decides to continue looking for Helise and their father’s spirit. He is joined by a knight and a troubadour on his journey to find answers. As his journey continues, the line between the real world and the spirit world blurs as magic and strange creatures enter in various scenes. William faces many obstacles—an overbearing king with a magic gryphon, a civilization of people with their faces on their chests, and an endless desert-like hell—only to discover his father in a pool’s reflection that brings him back to the real world. Once he returns, William and Helise join their mother and discover that she, in the form of a cat, killed their father and is a danger to them. They defeat the conniving Brifaut, rejoin their grandfather, and then return to their father’s grave to dig up his remains and burn them.
This multi-layered graphic novel is filled with interesting plot movements and straddles the line between the real world and the fantastical spirit world. The story is a bit confusing because of the limbo between the real and the fantastical, but the authors have separated the story nicely into parts to allow the reader to understand most of the shifts between the two. The plot and the overarching themes are thought-provoking. The characters are easily recognizable in the images and some of their traits are well-defined. Yet all of the characters, William included, seem to lack some development. Instead, they better fit into the allegory-like story that the authors have crafted to relay themes of loss, appearances, duty, and faith, among others. The images are also provocative, particularly those in William’s journey through the spirit world. The majority of the images are on the darker side, sometimes violent and cruel. Overall, a very intriguing graphic novel that stretches the limits of this medium.
*Contains images of violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing plot content.