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Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery

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Agnes Quill is the story of a teenage detective, the haunted city she lives in, the strange cases she solves and the ghosts who help, hinder or just plain annoy her. Set in Legerdemain -- a congested, fog-filled, cobblestone-paved Victorian city built around a cemetery the size of Central Park -- Agnes' adventures include confrontations with trapped spirits, cursed souls, possessed relatives, disappearing pets, decapitated scientists, ambitious zombies and a mess of other supernatural oddities.

120 pages, Paperback

First published October 31, 2006

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About the author

Dave Roman

45 books116 followers
Dave Roman is the author of several graphic novels including Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity, Teen Boat!, Jax Epoch, and Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery. He has contributed stories to Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, Nursery Rhyme Comics, and is the co-author of two New York Times bestselling graphic novels, X-Men: Misfits and The Last Airbender: Zuko’s Story. Roman is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and worked as a comics editor for the groundbreaking Nickelodeon Magazine from 1998 to 2009. He lives in Astoria, NY with his wife, and fellow comic artist, Raina Telgemeier.

Dave has had stories in Flight volumes 3, 4, 5, & 7 (Villard) and Bizarro World (DC Comics). His website is Yaytime.com

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5 stars
64 (20%)
4 stars
76 (24%)
3 stars
121 (38%)
2 stars
42 (13%)
1 star
13 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews
Profile Image for Mir.
4,837 reviews5,001 followers
July 15, 2017
Agnes is a girl who can see ghosts, as could her deceased grandfather. She lives at a Curiosity Shop in the strange city of Legerdemain with a strange dude called Lorik and ekes out a living working as a detective, both for haunted or cursed individuals or for the ghosts themselves.

The book consists of several short (some VERY short) stories by different artists. It is explained that these were developed from oral accounts to "researchers" so that eliminated the annoyance I often feel reading this sort of project with the inconsistencies.

This was fun but felt like the characters and setting needed more space to develop -- in fact it really felt like a quickie addition to a longer book or shared-universe set of stories, but I'm not seeing anything listed. Too bad, I'd read more if it were available.

I'd recommend this to people who liked the Lockwood & Company series, for example. It's not as funny as that, but sort of in that vein. Not too scary or graphic for younger readers.
Profile Image for Rach H.
165 reviews
January 7, 2019
This was a fun read. I like Agnes and her adventures are quick and exciting, if sometimes a little over-weird. My only complaint would be the way the book was set up as an anthology put together by the nebulous "Data Analysis Keep," which felt unnecessary in itself, and also the DAK's apparent need to provide some backstory outside of the actual comics, which was also unnecessary. All the written text (the DAK's "field guide" and Agnes's journal excerpts), which took up the last third-or-so of the book, felt redundant and tedious.
Profile Image for Nancy Kotkin.
1,363 reviews34 followers
May 22, 2017
Story: 3 stars
Art: 3 stars

This is part graphic novel and part illustrated diary. Each chapter is a separate story in the life of Agnes Quill, an orphaned female teen-ager who has inherited her grandfather's curiosity shop and supernatural detective agency, as well as his ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Some of the art is rather intricate but the quality of the printed back-and-white book is poor, making it a challenge to discern what is going on, especially in the two longer stories (Chapter 1 & Chapter 3), which are also the most interesting stories. Each chapter/story is drawn by a different artist, with wildly different representations of the same characters.

The diary in the back of the book is also interesting, but I would have enjoyed it even more if that information was turned into additional graphic stories. There are some drawings scattered throughout the diary, including my favorite rendering of Mr. Lorik, a multi-dimensional being and the shop's caretaker, on pg 97. The art gallery in the back of the book is terrific. But overall, this is a disjointed execution of a marvelous premise.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
4,559 reviews177 followers
January 28, 2008
I ordered this from OhioLink after seeing it on a recommended list (now I can't recall where!). I'd probably recommend it to teen girls with a dark sense of humor who like Emily the Strange and Rachel Cohn (not for the supernatural aspect, but the spunky girl aspect).

Agnes Quill is a 16-year-old orphan who lives in the strange city of Legerdemain ("sleight of hand") in a curiosity shop that she inherited from her grandfather. As she tries to figure out who she is and where she fits in the world, she discovers that she's inherited something else from her grandfather: the ability to see and communicate with the dead. Just as she's wondering how she'll pay the electric bill when she can't even stand going to school, a ghost shows up and requests her help retrieving a necklace from a tomb. The ghost can see and travel through walls, but only Agnes (the living) can touch things and open doors. Could it be that Agnes has found her calling?

This book is, indeed, an anthology, with four stories illustrated by different artists. I found myself torn between how interesting it is to see different visual interpretations of the same character and city, and how disjointed it is to lose consistency. With the exception of "Lost and Found," illustrated by Raina Telgemeier (The Babysitters' Club graphic novels) in a simple, Herge-like style, I found the artwork's high contrast and dense details to be somewhat difficult to "read."

The final part of the book is a prose Field Guide and journal excerpts that provide further insight into the identity of Agnes. These were some of my favorite parts of the book; they hint at a backstory, more mystery, and some of the lore surrounding Legerdemain. Reading these parts made me hope for more on Agnes and her world.

Favorite quotes:

"Because really, some people just deserve to get eaten by zombies."

"See if I help THEM out when they're dead."

"He doesn't say much, but just knowing he's downstairs in the store is comforting. His is the good kind of quiet."

"It's as if there are layers or levels to the afterlife somehow. I often imagine I can sense the walls between our worlds opening and closing with the shifting of the earth."
April 27, 2022
I'm not sure if this feels very 2006 because I was about 17 then and it feels about right to me personally, or if I'm thinking of other media from that time like Teen Titans or whatever, but it made me a little sad toward the end because it's a really cool concept and a pretty massive collaborative work that never went anywhere else like it was so clearly and hopefully intended to, as stated directly in the book itself. The sads come from the firm and ineffable knowledge that it did not and all but certainly will not. You don't have to flip back to the front or google the date: you know it's from, like, circa 2005 to 2008, definitively.

The varying art styles and pages of insight into the process of putting the project together are a fun behind-the-scenes treat, but further remind me of all the projects I've never finished. All of that said, I'm glad my friend found it at a second-hand shop in the UK somewhere and brought it to our book exchange group in Germany.

3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Orrin Grey.
Author 86 books301 followers
June 10, 2009
Recommended to me by The Groovy Age of Horror, collecting the webcomic of the same name, this sounded like about the best thing ever: a girl detective who can see ghosts solving mysteries in a Dickensian metropolis called Legerdemain.

There are a lot of nice things going on, and the art is mostly good (if sometimes a little hard to follow), but for whatever reason things never gel into something more than the sum of its potential. At least, not in this volume. But I'll be keeping my eye out in case there's ever more...
Profile Image for Krista the Krazy Kataloguer.
3,873 reviews265 followers
February 3, 2008
In this book, stories and illustrations were done by different artists. I had trouble figuring out what was going sometimes in the stories illustrated by Jason Ho and Jeff Zornow. Perhaps some color instead of black and white would have helped there. The stories mostly were so-so. I did like the character of Agnes, however, and the whole premise of a detective who works for ghosts. I'm a word-oriented rather than a picture-oriented person, and I would have gotten more enjoyment out of these stories had they been written in prose form.
Profile Image for Sarah.
340 reviews
May 25, 2009
This spooky and interesting graphic novel about a young detective who can see and speak with ghosts was a fun read. I particularly appreciate the traditional style of comic illustrating (this superhero comics) intermixed with a more cartoony style from story to story. It was a bit startling to switch reading gears after the last illustrated comic story to the prose of the last two chapters. Perhaps if they were interspersed between chapters, it wouldn't have been so jarring.
Profile Image for Talitha.
103 reviews2 followers
January 5, 2018
I found the concept to be really intriguing, but wasn’t engaged by the actual comic. I wanted there to be more development of the narratives. This may be more an issue because I’m not all that familiar with the genre, however. After reading more comics I may be able to give this a more fair review.
12 reviews
August 19, 2020
Cute and quick read. Wish there was a full length book for this character, there seems like so much potential for Agnes that a graphic novel might be too small for her.
Reminiscent of the Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman.
Profile Image for Madalyn.
35 reviews
July 15, 2021
Rating: Closer to a 3.5
The concept is really interesting, especially with all of the different art styles. I also really like the main character, Agnes. However, some of the stories felt disconnected from one another, both in tone and plot. While I like the more simplistic art styles aesthetically, the more complex graphic novel-esque ones told the story better with more complex dialogue and plots. Therefore, I prefer the more graphic novel styled stories in the book. Characters like Niel should have been in more than one story, as it seems like the writer wants him to be more central than he actually is. The diary at the end was also a bit boring compared to the actual collection, and it felt like a bit of a last-minute exposition dump.
Overall, it was a good read, but it just left me wanting more. 3.5 / 5 stars
Profile Image for dejah_thoris.
1,183 reviews20 followers
March 11, 2019
I found this work at my local public library and it's pretty neat to see several artists tell stories using the same characters. I wish they discussed the creation and publication process though. I'm very curious as to how they all decided what were the characters' key traits and regular outfits. Did Agnes Quill start as a webcomic? Or did they decide they wanted to try a volume of short stories using the same characters? Unless I research more, that question will remain a mystery.
Profile Image for Dawn.
303 reviews7 followers
November 24, 2017
I liked this collection a lot, and am disappointed to find out there is no more. It feels like such a great beginning but I want to know more. Many unanswered questions and adventures are out there! At least we have this bit, and I am introduced to a new author who perhaps has some other works of interest.
Profile Image for Heather.
1,172 reviews9 followers
September 25, 2018
The comics anthology was good, but the mishmash of journal entries at the end was weak-felt like a crutch to include all that explanatory text. Stories 1&3 are hard to read because of how much blacks there is—some images just didn’t print well.
380 reviews1 follower
June 13, 2017
Lovely, weird, creepy. Agnes is a fun character - girl detective amongst the world of ghosts but still living. Great premise. I was glad the art is by different people.
10 reviews
November 23, 2013
This graphic novel is a series of four unrelated stories, each of which is illustrated by a different artist. The stories center on a teenaged girl who can see ghosts. Set in the city of Legerdemain, Agnes has developed a detective business by helping these ghosts sort out their unfinished business, so that they can then move on to the afterlife. The first story is a combination of two entitled “The Mummified Heirloom” and “The Divided Man” in which Agnes tries to help the spirit of an old woman retrieve an necklace before her nephew can steal it, as well she helps a man look for the lower half of his body after he is sawed in half at a magic show. In “Lost and Found” Agnes tries to help a little spirit girl find her doll in the sewers beneath the city. The third story in the book is another two-in-one called “Zombie Love Trap” and “Buried Homes and Gardens.” “Zombie Love Trap” has Agnes helping a real man whose wife put a curse on all of his dead ex-girlfriends and “Buried Homes and Gardens” is about an underground city whose citizens are in danger of being destroyed. The fourth is called “Invite Only” and is about a little boy wanting to hire her to help him move on to the next world, because he is trapped in a house controlled by a another ghost.
The stories were enjoyable, but because they were all illustrated differently it was difficult to ascertain a continuous timeline and therefore felt a little choppy. I was also disappointed that there is only the one book in what I thought was a series. The back of the book contains Agnes’ journals and field guide which gives background information on the character of Agnes. It would have been nice if the author had used this information in a series of different storylines.
Profile Image for Brittany.
1,020 reviews114 followers
April 26, 2011
Agnes Quill is a teenager who has a gift. She can see and talk to ghosts. She uses this gift in an old Curiosity Shop, where the dead can call on her to help them accomplish things they can not do on their own. This is an interesting illustrated collection of four stories about her adventures in aiding the dead. There are also some of her journal entries in the back as well as guest art portraying Agnes Quill. Agnes is a unique and strong heroine in the story of her life. She is one who has a gift and is a good enough person to share it with the world.

This was a really fun read. I loved Agnes she was just such a strong character. It was nice seeing some of my fave illustrators in this collection. Agnes was a really fun character and her line of work was...interesting...to say the least. It would be very fascinating to be able to commune with and assist the dead. Some of the dead folk that Agnes aids are just in need of some assistance in finishing their final acts so that they may move on. I loved the semi-creepy feel that these comics has and how twisted some of the stories were. Many of them kept you guessing. The journal entries in the back were really fascinating too and gave you another story from Quill's point of view. This is another great addition to a comic/graphic novel fan's library. Please check this one out if you get a chance.

First Line:
"The Data Analysis Keep is a community of scholars dedicated to the advancement of all things scientific, mystical, and existential."

Favorite Lines:
"Agnes, there's something biting my leg!!!
Well shake it off!"
Profile Image for Arminzerella.
3,733 reviews86 followers
March 8, 2009
Agnes Quill is a teen detective who can see dead people. After losing her parents to influenza, and subsequently meeting her grandfather’s restless spirit, she learns of her talents and runs away to Legerdemain – a city chock full of ghosts that need her services. She sets up her offices in the small shop (attached to the small castle) where her grandfather once worked and lived. This is a collection of some of her adventures, told through artwork, and journal entries, and information gleaned by the Data Analysis Keep.

This graphic novel combines the talents of several artists – each with his or her own distinct style. Some are very realistic, some are simple and almost childish – comforting and familiar like Family Circus. The illustrations are all rather dark, which helps set the mood. Nothing too terribly scary or graphic happens, but there’s some gross-factor, and the spookiness of some of the characters Agnes encounters. The story is a bit choppy and hard to follow occasionally, but it’s deliberately told in this manner, and some bits are repeated in other ways later on, so eventually one has a grasp of who this Agnes person is and what it is she’s doing. It leaves you with the mystery of Agnes’ grandfather (Ages) and why it is that *his* spirit remains on the mortal plane, and of course, looking forward to hearing more about Agnes’ own adventures among the spirits.

Agnes is a good *girl* protagonist, and gothy-mystery-teen-gals should get a kick out of her.
Profile Image for Sue Smith.
1,174 reviews55 followers
May 8, 2011
The best part of this story - or collection of stories as it were - is that it's done through the 'eyes' of different artists. So everyone sees her as the same, but with their own version of how that should be. It's a great idea and makes the graphic side of the stories quite enjoyable.

The stories are introduced by a mysterious group that has decided to follow Agnes' adventures and do 'a compilation of some of her exploits', hence the different artists and their visual views. It's followed up by (and to lend creedence to the story)by diary exerpts by Agnes and a brief research 'Field Guide' to some of the characters introduced through the visual narrative. Gives a bit more meat to the story and lets you appreciate her exploits better once you go through it all.

I did like all the various artisans versions of Agnes at the end and it's always nice to read about the artists that were selected to do the story chapters. It's amazing to see how each version gives you something different - some softer, some harder - and lets you see the story through different eyes. My favorite 'view' was a single drawing of Agnes (done by an artisan other than the ones selected to do the main graphic stories of Agnes Quill), newly orphaned, on route by train to her Grandfather's - and now her's - ancestral castle. For me, its haunting and tragic and speaks volumes for the actual character of Agnes.

Profile Image for Kricket.
2,249 reviews
January 27, 2008
Each chapter of this book is a different story about Agnes Quill, who has inherited the ability to communicate with ghosts. Each chapter is also illustrated by a different graphic novelist, which was a cool idea, but it didn't work for me. I felt like I was encountering different characters each time.

I really did enjoy the chapters illustrated by Dave Roman (who wrote the stories) and Raina Telgemeier, of my beloved babysitters club graphic novel revival. I couldn't follow the style of the other illustrators-- while being well suited for horror, they were way too busy, and I found it hard to tell what I was supposed to be looking at- and maybe that's what made those stories lukewarm as well. Whoever did the cover illustration- gorgeous- should have done a whole chapter.

At the end, there are field notes about Agnes and the other characters, and then excerpts from Agnes' diary, which didn't match the chronology of the stories and kind of confused me.

Another thing- at the beginning of one of the chapters (and later in the diary) Agnes has just torched a warehouse full of zombie ex-girlfriends after a wife put a curse on her cheating husband. This sounds like a great story! Why wasn't this one illustrated, instead of only being hinted at?
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 15 books819 followers
September 18, 2009
I found this on a website of recommended horror graphic novels. It contains a few stories, then a journal and character descriptions make up the other half of the book.

... I wasn't exactly a fan. The stories all start in the middle of some action that seems to me would have been more exciting than the actual story. I felt like the journal entries and character descriptions would have been helpful at the beginning, as I was dumped in the middle of the story trying to figure everything out when the journals & descriptions would have explained everything. I also didn't really like the use of about 6 different artists with distinct styles. It was kind of interesting to see all the different interpretations of what Agnes Quill looked like, but it seemed strange to go from a very sophisticated, gothic-looking Agnes to a simplistic cartoon Agnes. Some of the art felt too cluttered as well.
Profile Image for Dawn.
728 reviews50 followers
March 20, 2008
This graphic novel has a great premise that falls short in the execution. It's the story of a girl with the ability to communicate with the dead. She lives in the fictional city of Legerdemain, and works as a detective in her grandfather's antiquities shop. This anthology features 4-5 tales, illustrated by different graphic artists. It is quite possible that my perception of the book is due to the fact that I am very new to graphic novels. I felt that such an intriguing premise deserves an equally intriguing presentation, and I didn't get that. I feel like the author could have done a lot more with it, and a lot of the language seemed somewhat cliched. Although I liked several of the illustrators, there were also some that were just too much for me.
Profile Image for Victoria.
217 reviews14 followers
July 18, 2013
3.5 stars. This book features a really interesting concept. Agnes and the world she inhabits is very likable, and the written account of her exploits at the end of the book is useful and interesting. The problem is that the individual stories, which are not necessarily given in chronological time, do not necessarily hang together well. This is not unexpected, given that each is from a different artist. The art, unlike the writing, ranges from very good (Jason Ho) to pretty awful.

This is a fun, quick read, and certainly enjoyable. Still, it is better in idea than in execution.
Profile Image for Jessalyn King.
1,066 reviews19 followers
December 28, 2015
Story 1: Loved the art style. Beatrice was hilarious. Slightly creepy otherwise, but a good introduction to the character and her work.
Story 2: I love Raina Telgemeier! This was adorable!
Story 3: I liked the character design and the story, but the art was a bit hard to decipher... Maybe because the backgrounds were so detailed?
Story 4: drawn by the writer. I actually preferred this art to the last one. It was less skillful, but it was easier to understand. Also the story was really sweet.
Back Matter: clever. I enjoyed her diary.

Note: I covet her coat.
4 reviews
December 12, 2016
There are several stories written and illustrated by different people, so each story feels unique, the binding thread to it all is Agnes Quill a private detecting who works for ghosts and spirits. I quite enjoyed reading this rather macabre version of Encyclopedia Brown.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 114 books708 followers
January 6, 2009
I grabbed this from the library on a whim, and read it with no preconceptions. Then I didn't read the cover blurb, so I went into it pretty blind. Anyhow, it's a fun concept, and the literary world can always use more kickass girl detectives. Each story was illustrated by a different artist, and I liked the visual style of some more than others.
Profile Image for Susan Rose.
315 reviews41 followers
May 4, 2012
I really enjoyed these different stories, in different drawing styles all centering around Agnes Quill. I really liked the central character's humour.

However,although I did like the differing representations of her in some of the drawings which were a lot more sexualised than the others, I just didn't believe she was supposed to be sixteen.

Profile Image for Lindsey.
236 reviews4 followers
November 29, 2012
Interesting concept, but I found that having the anthology spilt into sections (i.e. illustrations, journal entries, visual depictions) didn't work too well for me. I might have preferred having it all mixed up. Agnes was highly likeable, however, and the stories (or the mysteries, I should say) were enjoyable.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews

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