Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Review

By Kirsten White
Illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo
Reviewed by Hazel Buys

            Bartolo and White redefine the illustrated novel in this story of devil’s disciples that transcends genre. A little bit gothic, a little bit sci-fi and a whole lot fantasy, this layered story of romance, adventure and time travel covers a century in two slip-streams, one delivered in eloquent prose and the other in illustrations, boldly drawn and painted images of fear and flight, combat and pursuit. In the early years of the twentieth century, the lives of four teenagers converge at an inn in Maine. Two of them, Cora and Minnie, are the daughters of the innkeeper, a widow. The other two, Thom and his younger brother Charles, who is slowly dying, arrive in flight from an unnamed danger, sent by their father under the pretense of seeking respite from city life for the summer. Their story is told in the prose chapters, beginning with their witness of a hanging and the disappearance of the body which then reappears, unable to die. The fifth voyager is Arthur, kingpin and secret-keeper, who understands the danger that pursues them all. His story unfolds in the illustrations, comprising chapters that alternate with the prose. Much of the plot unfolds in predictable ways: parents disappear, bodies come back to life, a secret society of immortals, the Ladon Vitae, is revealed. These immortals have appropriated power from an imprisoned devil-child and use it to control people and events, always for evil ends. The two stories converge at the conclusion where the patience of true love is rewarded. This is not a novel for readers who prefer their stories in strictly linear form. But for those willing to read “outside the box,” it offers an intriguing and imaginative variation on the usual formula.

ISBN: 978-0-545-56144-0