Once again, Castle Waiting's doors are thrown wide to the loveable outcasts and old friends of Linda Medley'Full review posted on Across the Litoverse
Once again, Castle Waiting's doors are thrown wide to the loveable outcasts and old friends of Linda Medley's core characters in this unforgettable fairytale realm. As the collection opens, Rackham—the castle steward—takes Jain and baby Pindar on a tour of Castle Waiting's labyrinthine tower so the duo can select their new rooms. Meanwhile, unexpected visitors arrive at the front gates, which leads to the discovery and exploration of secret passageways throughout the castle proper—not to mention a rousing bowling tournament.
Readers gain further insights on Lady Jain's childhood and the enigmatic, unsettled Dr. Fell through a series of flashbacks illuminating their backstories. And, of course, one cannot forget the quest for lady's underpants, the further education of Simon, the unruly rationale of a wily goat, and more adventures that comprise Castle Waiting, Vol. 2
While I was enamoured with Medley's episodic narrative and her colourful cast in the first Castle Waiting volume, I found the second collection didn't captivate me in the same sense. Granted, I loved exploring the secret (and haunted?) tunnels and the endless rooms of the Castle with Jain and Rackham, and I found Dr. Fell's background as a plague doctor was as fascinating as it was frightening, particularly when stories of his isolation on a plague-ridden island were revealed, But I found the stories themselves were slower-paced this time around, and I found the plot lines followed a more linear progression when compared to the first volume.
After finishing the second collection, I would advise fellow readers to wait for the third installment to hit the presses and then read each volume in quick succession so as to A) remember the character's names and their personal connections, and B) avoid the cliffhanger syndrome I am currently experiencing. I know I'll check out Castle Waiting Vol. 3 once it's printed, but oh, the wait will be a difficult one.
Ideal for: Fairytale junkies and fans of mythical times/places; Readers who like an equal dose of humour and darkness in their fairytales; Folks who enjoyed volume one and need a further fix of their favourite characters (so long as you read vol. 2 right after vol. 1)...more
Tom Taylor's no stranger to the limelight—of course, the fame was never his to start with. Tom's father, WilFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Tom Taylor's no stranger to the limelight—of course, the fame was never his to start with. Tom's father, Wilson Taylor, won critical acclaim and a massive, dedicated fanbase for his thirteen-book series about a boy wizard named Tommy Taylor—since Wilson's disappearance, Tom has toured the convention circuit in his father's place, and he's learned to pander to the legions of adoring readers who see him as the flesh-and-blood incarnation of Tommy. Tom goes through the motions, all the while pressuring his manager to land some decent acting gigs for the would-be performer.
While attending London's 30th Annual Fantasy Convention, a woman calling herself Lizzie Hexam challenges Tom and accuses him of being a fraud. Lizzie's in the process of completing her doctoral thesis, and she's uncovered some inconsistencies in Tom's personal information and his childhood records. As Tom struggles to deal with the fallout from these recent accusations, the young man finds himself drawn into an ever-widening mystery regarding his origins in the Taylor family and his father's whereabouts. As he sifts through the information at hand, and as he returns to the scene of Wilson's disappearance, Tom's life begins to mirror Tommy's life in eerie and dangerous ways…
An excellent introduction to a sinister, magical world—for starters, I loved how much bookish knowledge is required on behalf of The Unwritten's readers—of course, we're treated to Tom's in-depth awareness of London's literary geography and Wilson's obsession with his son's education on that front, but it's the subtle, insider's nudge that pleased me the most. So far, there are five books to the series, and I will certainly be checking out the others in the near future.
Ideal for: Book nerds checking out comic books for the first time; "Pott-heads" intrigued by a re-imagining of their beloved hero's archetype; Comic book readers looking to distance themselves from the usual superhero fare, or looking for a fantastic re-jigging of the everyday world....more
Desperate to win his lover's hand in marriage, a young man named Heinz appeals to the gods—of courCheck out more manga reviews on Across the Litoverse
Desperate to win his lover's hand in marriage, a young man named Heinz appeals to the gods—of course, he hadn't planned to be taken captive, mid-prayer, by a beautiful, fiery god…
Apollo, the god of the sun, spirits Heinz away to a miniature garden hidden in the realm of the Gods. Here, the constellations remain fixed, and an endless field of white flowers bloom underfoot. Time cannot be measured in this place, and eternal life will be given to all who enter. Apollo promises to grant Heinz his wish on one condition: Heinz must convince the garden's sole inhabitant that he can escape from this world. A simple premise, but the gods are a fickle lot…
From there, Heinz meets Ganymede, the youngest prince of Troy, who was imprisoned in Apollo's garden hundreds of years ago. After repeated attempts to find the cliff at the end of this realm, Ganymede succumbed to his own self-doubt and despair. Heinz is young by comparison, and he's still blinded by ambition, love, and, worst of all, hope. Can Ganymede free himself from the snares in his mind? Is escape even possible at this point? Or is this a new torment fine-tuned for Apollo's amusement?
Oh, the artwork of Olympos. The ethereal qualities of the ill-fated garden, and the detail behind the gods' character designs, made for a stunning reading experience. I don't often get lost in the art of a manga collection, but Aki creates such beautiful, hypnotic dreamscapes—how could a reader ever avoid the same traps Ganymede fell into?
While I did love the artwork, I found the narrative was rather circular at times. Olympos offers a "philosophical-lite" approach to Greek mythology, and tussles with issues ranging from truth and deception to self-imprisonment and the limits of freedom; however, I realized the manga fell into a pattern of talking heads (à la Socrates and co.) with little action taking place. Granted, our main setting is Ganymede's infinite prison, so there's only so much room to explore—but I often find idea-driven work hard to stick with, especially when the characters are gorgeous and, well, lounging for the most part.
Overall, I'd advise fans of Greek mythology and Western philosophers to proceed with caution, but art aficionados should definitely check out Olympos for a drool-worthy manga experience.
Ideal for: Josei fans feeling underrepresented in the manga marketplace; North American readers who need a lesson on the artistry inherent to manga; Folks with a weaker background in Greek mythology and philosophy, and a strong interest in gorgeous character designs. ...more
The Anthology Project has a simple mandate: to collect comics from artists who pursue compelling narrativesFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
The Anthology Project has a simple mandate: to collect comics from artists who pursue compelling narratives and have published notable works in sequential arts. In short, "[i]ts humble intent is only to delight"—and I assure you, the book delights on numerous levels. I have a soft spot for comic collections and literary journals for their variance and their promise of new talent to discover. And, for the first time in quite a few years, I've found an anthology that features strong storytelling and breathtaking art across the board. I feel this explains their 2011 Eisner Award nomination for Best Anthology, wouldn't you agree?
Immediate favourites include include Kim Smith's "The Nose and the Tongue", a tale of two duelling sommeliers with a contentious wine-tasting competition in their past, and a new Barrel Master score to settle in the present; Chris Makris's "Little World Runner", which examines the life of a young gamer girl who creates and maintains a virtual world known as Azria, and must handle the difficult decisions only a god could make; and Tom Rhodes's "The Box", a hilarious comic about an alien creature named Bardy and an android known as '06' who find a mysterious box at the edge of the universe. All three tales take place across different timeframes and illustrate different issues, but their narratives offer an excellent launch point into the world of sequential comics.
Beautiful, surreal, and endearing—The Anthology Project is a testament to the innovation behind Canadian sequential arts, and it ought to be the next addition to your graphica collection.
Ideal for: New readers to comic collections and sequential arts; Fans of short stories and literary journals who want to add some artwork to the mix; Graphic design and illustration students looking for a lesson on short, powerful storytelling....more
Within the circular maze of black-and-white-striped tents, and against a midnight canvas of stars and white fOriginally posted on Across the Litoverse
Within the circular maze of black-and-white-striped tents, and against a midnight canvas of stars and white fire, circus patrons lose themselves in the unmatched wonder of Le Cirque des Rêves. But behind the smoke and mirrors lies a fierce competition waged between two illusionists, bound to the contest by their teachers' on-going gentleman's agreement. Celia and Marco have trained since childhood to compete in a "game" with no clear timeframe and no concrete rules. Unbeknownst to the players, this game allows for only one victor, and the circus will be the venue for a remarkable battle of imagination and endurance.
As the circus travels through Europe and then on to the world, the feats of magic spiral to fantastic new heights at each location. But the game absorbs the lives of all those involved in its waking dream—from the eccentric circus owner and the elusive contortionist, to the forlorn fortune-teller and the red-headed twins born into the venue. When Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, the duo transform the competition into a collaborative effort without knowing that the game must end in sacrifice…
Erin Morgenstern hypnotizes with her prose and offers a bright window into a world where mystery pervades and magic is entirely real. The Night Circus is comprised of short, quick chapters that are ideal for commuting readers, though the non-linear movement through the narrative might disorient at times (re: near the end where we jump between 1901 and 1902 in quick succession). Though, being a fan of Doctor Who, I enjoy those breaks from an "A to B" novel structure. I understand now why fashion designers and graphic artists have been captured by The Night Circus, given the lush attention to clothing and the overall style of the circus proper. An excellent book for October in particular, with a steaming cup of tea at hand.
Ideal for: All the kids who ever dreamed of running away with the circus; Readers who love modern fairytales and magic realism blended with a nice bit of tea; Romance junkies who crave an extra bit of magic in their stories; Folks with a soft spot for Halloween and the otherwordly....more
Well, given I was the Goodreader who added this selection to the website, I would suggest you check out the synoCheck out more on Across the Litoverse
Well, given I was the Goodreader who added this selection to the website, I would suggest you check out the synopsis written above.
As for a rating, I found the book was memorable for its quaint bizarreness and its strange turns of phrase. For instance, Herbert McKay's Little House in the Woods introduced kids to the topic of the slave trade, yet also managed to be oppressively repetitive. Geoffrey C. Turner's stories (The Huge Smile and The Rabbits' Party) were equally surreal, and equally small-minded about certain groups (re: "ugly" people and the rich kids). On the opposite hand, Marion Coombes's Brenda Bear series was delightfully episodic and cute to boot. Overall, a nice collection for children to amuse themselves over....more
Bureaucratic magic meets stifling political deadlock in the Cold War–inflected novel, The Night Watch. UnbeknOriginally posted on Across the Litoverse
Bureaucratic magic meets stifling political deadlock in the Cold War–inflected novel, The Night Watch. Unbeknownst to the human citizens of Moscow, a war between agents of the Light and the Dark has marred their streets for generations. Supernatural beings known as the Others maintain the fine balance of Good and Evil among the human population, and among the Others themselves, under the guidelines of The Great Treaty—a tense "ceasefire" signed by the leaders of the Night Watch and the Day Watch.
The Night Watch opens as Anton Gorodetsky, a young Other from the aforementioned watch, patrols Moscow's streets as an active agent for the first time. As he tracks down a renegade vampire and his newly made mistress, Anton stumbles across a young woman on the metro with trouble brewing around her. A powerful curse swirls over Svetlana's head and threatens to unleash great terror over Moscow, but Anton has his hands full after saving Egor (a young, uninitiated Other) from the clutches of the Dark Ones. At the command of his boss, Anton teams up with a powerful Other named Olga, a woman locked into the form of an owl as punishment for a past error in judgement. Together, and with the rest of the Night Watch, they struggle to remove Svetlana's curse and to protect Egor from the vampires after his blood.
I had a mixed response to this book: on one hand, I loved its paranoid atmosphere and its densely bureaucratic treatment of magic (e.g. licenses to hunt as a vampire and werewolf; licenses to use magic as a healer or a seer, etc.), but there was a definite energy lag toward the second half of the book (where cold vodka and repetitious Anton-angst rule the narrative). However, fans of the fantasy/horror blend will discover great action and heady philosophical debates in this first book of The Night Watch tetralogy.
Ideal for: Readers with a penchant for Cold War politics and fantasy/horror mash-ups; Nerds who like a shot of the philosophical in their genre fiction; Folks who like their morals in a fine murky grey inside of a solid black or white; Readers who like to feel paranoid while diving into a new work. ...more
Castle Waiting explores a series of interconnected stories revolving around the inhabitants of an abandoned,Full review posted on Across the Litoverse
Castle Waiting explores a series of interconnected stories revolving around the inhabitants of an abandoned, isolated castle, and describes their lives before and after finding sanctuary within those walls. After a princess and her attendants awake from a one-hundred year slumber, the young woman abandons her former life to live with her new prince. In the aftermath, her three handmaidens—Patience, Prudence, and Plenty—transform the castle into a refuge for travellers in need. In the following tales, readers are introduced to a pregnant woman fleeing her abusive husband, the half-horse knight Sir Chess who rests at the castle between adventures, the bearded nun named Sister Peace, and a host of memorable characters that are both cheeky and charming throughout.
Though Castle Waiting takes place in a medieval and magical world, Linda Medley fuses modern elements into her storytelling and her artwork, which offer a great twist to the fairytale standards we learned as children. Her pacing and her panel layout borrow from cinematic conventions and she uses modern fantasy literature to add context for her stories. Her artwork is both remarkably detailed and lighthearted, and she enhances the expressiveness of her characters in her crisp, energetic dialogue.
As a side note, I loved the Poltersprites who occupied the castle as well—adorable little shit disturbers, the lot of them. Who wouldn't want a slew of house lutins, duende, brownies, tomtras, hobgoblins, servans, and piskies playing pranks in her home? Also, Old Man River—how one manages to balance creepiness and charisma is beyond me, but he does it with style.
If you're in the mood to explore a forgotten fairytale realm, and even if you're not, Castle Waiting is bound to charm the socks clean from your feet.
Ideal for: Readers who happily refuse to grow up; Fairytale junkies and fans of mythical times/places; Newbies to the graphic novel scene; Readers who like a dash a feminism and a whole lot of humour to their fantasy....more