Shelf Control #92: Locke & Key, volume 6: Alpha & Omega

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! Fore more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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My Shelf Control pick this week is:

Title: Locke & Key, volume 6: Alpha & Omega
Author: Joe Hill
Published: 2014
Length: 192 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The shadows have never been darker and the end has never been closer. Turn the key and open the last door; it’s time to say goodbye.

The final arc of New York Times bestselling Locke & Key comes to a thundrous and compelling conclusion.

An event not to be missed!

And about the series:

Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them. Home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all…

How and when I got it:

I preordered this baby and got it on release day, January of 2014.

Why I want to read it:

This is so ridiculous. I read the first five volumes of the Locke & Key series as they were released — well, devoured them, really. And then some time went by, and then volume 6 was released, and I thought to myself that it would be a great idea to start the series again from the beginning so I could be totally in the moment and really savor the series finale. And of course, that never happened. It was a stupid vicious cycle — I was dying to read the conclusion, but wanted to reread the whole series, but didn’t have time to start again, but didn’t want to read #6 without starting again. On and on, until today! I’ve made finishing this series a New Year’s resolution a couple of times now. Maybe in 2018? For realzies this time.

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My top 10 favorites in graphic novels, comics, & illustrated books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is All about the visuals: Top Ten Favorite Graphic Novels/Comics or Ten Comics on My TBR or Top Ten Favorite Picture Books.

That’s a pretty broad range of choices, but I think I’ll stick with my favorites in graphic novels (some of which might more properly be called comics, but I don’t mind lumping them all together, as people tend to do). I needed to expand the topic to include other types of illustrated books as well. You’ll see why.

Starting with the serious and historically important:

1) Maus by Art Spiegelman: This modern classic is a must-read.

maus

2) Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: The story of a girl’s adolescence and young adulthood in Iran is moving and beautifully drawn.

persepolis

Moving on to more fantastical fare:

3) Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan (review): One of my favorites ever! I love this “saga” of a worldwide mysterious event that leaves exactly one human male left on Earth. Brilliant.

ylastman

And speaking of sagas by Brian K. Vaughan…

4) Saga by Brian K. Vaughan: Such a wonderful bit of storytelling — war, love, child-raising, plus wings and horns and TV monitors for heads.

saga collage

5) Fables by Bill Willingham: I love everything about Fables, except the fact that it ended.

fables storybook love

6) Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 8, 9, 10) by Joss Whedon et. al.: No such thing as too much Buffy! The TV series may have ended after 7 seasons, but the official Buffy storyline lives on in comic book format. And don’t miss the spin-offs about Angel, Faith, Spike, and Willow.

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7) Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn (review): I stumbled across this trilogy purely by accident at the library one day. The drawing are spare, but the storytelling (about a human and a robot who fall in love, and explore what it means to be a real person) is really terrific.

Alex + Ada

8) Through the Woods by Emily Carroll: Spooky, eerie stories and illustrations make this one a must (and a great gift for anyone who enjoys the darker side of life).

Through the Woods

Ack! I’m running out of room! So tied for number 9 (cheating!) are two different works that scare the pants off me:

9a) N by Stephen King: Oh my sweet heavens. This is a terrifying book. Nightmares, nightmares, nightmares. But read it anyway!

n-stephen-king

9b) The Locke & Key series by Joe Hill: I’m ashamed to admit that I STILL haven’t read the final volume in the incredibly creative and horribly creepy Locke & Key series. Mainly, I haven’t finished because it’s been too long since I’ve read volumes 1 – 5, and I think I need to do a re-read. But the books are so scary that I’m not sure I want to do a re-read! Seriously, I love Locke & Key, but they make me want to lock all the doors and windows and never, ever go near wells or keys.

locke

And finally, an illustrated novel:

10) Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick: Really, I’d pick just about any of this author’s three wonderful illustrated books (the others being The Invention of Hugo Cabret and The Marvels). I love how the drawings are part of the narrative itself, rather than simply decoration. Wonderstruck made me cry, so it deserves a spot on my top 10 list!

wonderstruck

What books made your list this week? Please share your link!

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Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I host a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

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Let us now praise gorgeous books

My photos simply won’t do this book justice, but I still have to share. I was so excited to get this delivered this week:

kindred-cover

It’s a brand new release — a graphic novel adaptation of the late, great Octavia Butler’s masterpiece Kindred.

A few more peeks:

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I hope to start reading this graphic novel this week. Kindred is an amazing book — if you haven’t read the original novel, do it now!! I can’t wait to see if the power and intensity of the book translate well into graphic novel format.

I’ll let you know!

Shelf Control #66: The Undertaking of Lily Chen

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! Fore more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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My Shelf Control pick this week is:

undertakingTitle: The Undertaking of Lily Chen
Author: Danica Novgorodoff
Published: 2014
Length: 430 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In the mountains of Northern China ancient custom demands that every man have a wife to keep him company in the afterlife.

Deshi Li’s brother is dead—and unmarried. Which means that Deshi must find him an eligible body before the week is up.

Lily Chen, sweet as a snakebite, needs money and a fast ride out of town.

Haunted by the gods of their ancestors and the expectations of the new world, Deshi and Lily embark on a journey with two very different destinations in mind.

They travel through a land where the ground is hard and the graves are shallow, where marriage can be murder and where Lily Chen is wanted—dead and alive.

How I got it:

I bought it.

When I got it:

In 2014, after reading a review soon after the book was released.

Why I want to read it:

It sounds great, doesn’t it? I love the idea of the ghost bride, as well as the combination of old traditions and new society. I’m always on the lookout for unusual graphic novels, and this one sounds like something really different.

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • And if you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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Thursday Quotables: Angel & Faith, Death and Consequences (Season 9, volume 4)

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Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

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Angel & Faith: Death and Consequences by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs
(published 2013)

I went on a Buffy binge this week! I read a total of eleven volumes of graphic novels from the Buffy-verse — including Buffy season 9, Angel & Faith season 9, and a stand-alone Willow book. It might be weird to pick a quote from a graphic novel, but I can’t resist! It’s been so much fun to be back with the gang again. The comic series does an amazing job of staying true to the characters — their personalities, appearances, and speech patterns.

So, here’s a little snippet of a wonderful little Spike moment:

Baby slayers. I missed baby slayers. The angst, the attitude… bit like a soap opera with weapons.

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

Shelf Control #25: Pride of Baghdad

Shelves final

Welcome to the newest weekly feature here at Bookshelf Fantasies… Shelf Control!

Shelf Control is all about the books we want to read — and already own! Consider this a variation of a Wishing & Waiting post… but looking at books already available, and in most cases, sitting right there on our shelves and e-readers.

Want to join in? See the guidelines and linky at the bottom of the post, and jump on board! Let’s take control of our shelves!

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My Shelf Control pick this week is:

Pride of BaghdadTitle: Pride of Baghdad
Author: Brian K. Vaughan (art by Niko Henrichon)
Published: 2006
Length: 136 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

From one of America’s most critically acclaimed graphic novel writers – inspired by true events, a startlingly original look at life on the streets of Baghdad during the Iraq War.

In his award-winning work on Y THE LAST MAN and EX MACHINA (one of Entertainment Weekly’s 2005 Ten Best Fiction titles), writer Brian K. Vaughan has displayed an understanding of both the cost of survival and the political nuances of the modern world. Now, in this provocative graphic novel, Vaughan examines life on the streets of war-torn Iraq.

In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD raises questions about the true meaning of liberation – can it be given or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?

Based on a true story, VAUGHAN and artist NIKO HENRICHON (Barnum!) have created a unique and heartbreaking window into the nature of life during wartime, illuminating this struggle as only the graphic novel can.

 

How I got it:

I bought a copy while browsing in the local used book store.

When I got it:

About a year ago.

Why I want to read it:

Y: The Last Man and Saga are two of my favorite series of all-times. This is a stand-alone graphic novel from the amazing Brian K. Vaughan, and it sounds really interesting and so different!

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link below!
  • And if you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and have fun!


For more on why I’ve started Shelf Control, check out my introductory post here, or read all about my out-of-control book inventory, here.

And if you’d like to post a Shelf Control button on your own blog, here’s an image to download (with my gratitude, of course!):

Shelf Control

Thursday Quotables: Nimona

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Welcome back to Thursday Quotables! This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.  Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written, Thursday Quotables is where my favorite lines of the week will be, and you’re invited to join in!

NEW! Thursday Quotables is now using a Linky tool! Be sure to add your link if you have a Thursday Quotables post to share.

Nimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
(published 2015)

I loved this wonderful graphic novel, which features characters who turn stereotypes upside down, snappy dialogue, and a plot that’s constantly a surprise. Here’s a little taste of the relationship between Lord Ballister Blackheart and sidekick Nimona:

“I just don’t want you to get hurt!”

“Will you CHILL OUT? No one ever got killed with one little arrow!”

“Actually, they do. That is kind of the purpose of arrows.”

 

What lines made you laugh, cry, or gasp this week? Do tell!

If you’d like to participate in Thursday Quotables, it’s really simple:

  • Write a Thursday Quotables post on your blog. Try to pick something from whatever you’re reading now. And please be sure to include a link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your post (http://www.bookshelffantasies.com), if you’d be so kind!
  • Click on the linky button (look for the cute froggie face) below to add your link.
  • After you link up, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment about my quote for this week.
  • Be sure to visit other linked blogs to view their Thursday Quotables, and have fun!

2015: My year in graphic novels

2015 reading

I’m working on a big year-in-review wrap-up post, but it’s going pretty slowly… and meanwhile, I was thinking about all the terrific graphic novels I read in 2015, so let’s go with that for a topic, shall we?

In 2015, I read 22 graphic novels. Not too shabby! Some were stand-alones, some were volumes in ongoing series, and some were complete trilogies that I read all in one gulp.

(Note: The synopses quoted here are all from Goodreads. These are all books that I read in 2015, but they weren’t necessarily published in 2015. For those I’ve previously reviewed, the review links are included.)

For me, the best of the best in 2015 include:

A beautiful and eerie collection of graphic stories, which I know I’ll want to read again and again:

Through the WoodsDiscover a terrifying world in the woods in this collection of five hauntingly beautiful graphic stories that includes the online webcomic sensation “His Face All Red,” in print for the first time.

Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to “Our Neighbor’s House”—though coming back might be a problem. Or find yourself a young bride in a house that holds a terrible secret in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.” You might try to figure out what is haunting “My Friend Janna,” or discover that your brother’s fiancée may not be what she seems in “The Nesting Place.” And of course you must revisit the horror of “His Face All Red,” the breakout webcomic hit that has been gorgeously translated to the printed page.

Already revered for her work online, award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll’s stunning visual style and impeccable pacing is on grand display in this entrancing anthology, her print debut.

 

A totally fun, girl-power positive adventure:

Adventures of Superhero GirlWhat if you can leap tall buildings and defeat alien monsters with your bare hands, but you buy your capes at secondhand stores, and have a weakness for kittens, and a snarky comment from Skeptical Guy can ruin a whole afternoon? Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks brings her skills in character design and sharp, charming humor to the trials and tribulations of a young, superhero battling monsters both supernatural and mundane in an all-too-ordinary world. (review)

 

 

I absolutely adored the Good Neighbors trilogy by Holly Black, featuring gorgeous illustrations and a tightly woven plot about an ordinary young woman with a connection to the world of faerie:

Rue Silver’s mother has disappeared . . . and her father has been arrested, suspected of killing her. But it’s not as straightforward as that. Because Rue is a faerie, like her mother was. And her father didn’t kill her mother — instead, he broke a promise to Rue’s faerie king grandfather, which caused Rue’s mother to be flung back to the faerie world. Now Rue must go to save her — and must also defeat a dark faerie that threatens our very mortal world. (review)

In 2015, we said good-bye to a truly astounding, rich graphic novel series — one of my absolute favorites — Fables. While the series has had some ups and downs over its run, overall, I consider it a masterpiece.

Fables v22It’s the final trade paperback volume of FABLES! No, wait – it’s FABLES #150, the grand finale of the best-selling, award-winning comic book series! And it’s also an original graphic novel in the tradition of 1001 NIGHTS OF SNOWFALL! Yes, it’s all this and more! Join us for 150 – that’s, right, 150! – pages of new stories starring your favorite Fables, all from the mind of Bill Willingham. It all starts with an 80-page lead story illustrated by series regulars Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, plus stories illustrated by Mark Schultz, Gene Ha, Neal Adams, Andrew Pepoy and many more!
Don’t miss the final bows for Boy Blue, Stinky, Lake and more in this once-in-a-lifetime issue that also features a foldout cover by Nimit Malavia that opens into a four-panel mural! It’s even got metallic ink!

But before we get too teary-eyed over the end of Fables… look, it’s a prequel! The Wolf Among Us is the first volume in a new prequel series, and it’s quite good fun. Bonus for me: It revolves around my favorite Fables character, Bigby Wolf!

Wolf Among UsEven before the first issue of Fables , there were stories to be told, shadowy avenues to explore, and lives hanging in the balance! Bigby Wolf has seen plenty in his time as Sheriff of Fabletown…but nothing can prepare him for this…

It all starts with a simple domestic disturbance. But when Bigby learns that his old nemesis, the Woodsman who has an axe to grind, is part of the scene, things go downhill fast. And how will Bigby and Snow White keep their heads long enough to crack the case when they get caught up in a grisly murder mystery?

Another ongoing series which I adore is Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. This interplanetary story of love and war has amazing characters, complicated plots, and Lying Cat!

Saga 5

Multiple storylines collide in this cosmos-spanning new volume. While Gwendolyn and Lying Cat risk everything to find a cure for The Will, Marko makes an uneasy alliance with Prince Robot IV to find their missing children, who are trapped on a strange world with terrifying new enemies. Collects Saga #25-30.

 

 

 

 

 

The Alex + Ada trilogy is a must-read. A love story and a meditation on what it means to be human, Alex + Ada tells a terrific, touching tale over a three-book arc. The trilogy is quick to read, but will stay with you for a long time afterward. (review)

 

The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot. Alex takes a huge risk to unlock Ada so she can think for herself and explore life as a sentient android. As Alex and Ada spend more time together, they become closer. But as restrictions tighten on artificial intelligence, Ada feels unsure about her place in the world, and Alex questions being with an android.

And finally, my most recently read graphic novel, about a girl who wants to be a sidekick, the supervillain she supports, and their archnemesis, golden boy Sir Goldenloin. Except nobody here is quite what they seem, and as it turns out, even supervillains have a moral code. Nimona is funny and sweet and surprising. Check it out!

NimonaThe graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

 

 

Have you read any great graphic novels this year? Please share your recommendations! I’m always on the lookout for new and different worlds to explore.

Graphic Reaction: Alex + Ada

Let’s talk about the terrific trilogy I just read! Presenting…

Alex + Ada Alex + Ada 2A+A

Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn is a futuristic love story set not too far from now, when robots are a part of everyday life, people’s smart phones have been replaced by devices implanted directly into their temples, and the search for meaning and humanity is as present as always.

Alex is a disaffected twenty-something at the start of the story, lonely after the end of a relationship, and lacking much purpose in his life. To cheer him up, his wealthy grandmother gives him a gift — an X5, the latest in life-like androids. The X5 looks and feels like a real person, and is programmed to please its owner. Yes, in all ways.

Alex is perturbed by this gift — he has no interest in having an android for a companion. But as he spends more time with Ada, he wonders whether there’s more than meets the eye. When he learns about an underground movement that holds the secret to enabling androids’ sentience, he realizes that he can only be happy with Ada if she’s capable of choosing to be with him as well. Sentience for robots, however, is strictly against the law — and when a sentient robot goes on a rampage and kills humans, there’s an immediate backlash against all robots.

Alex and Ada, meanwhile, pursue their goal of sentience, and in the process, fall deeply in love. There’s no place in the world for a couple like them, and they’re forced to hide and go on the run. Meanwhile, the political debate concerning equal rights for sentient artifical intelligence continues to rage, and social change seems inevitable.

The Alex + Ada trilogy tells a powerful story of love and connection, while also asking some fundamental questions about what makes a person a person. Does one need bones and blood to be human? Are feelings that stem from a constructed system any different from feelings generated by an organic human brain? And what about free will?

The artwork in Alex + Ada is minimalistic and spare, but beautiful all the same. The eyes of the characters are expressive, and their body language is clear and evocative. The illustration style supports the narrative, and I really appreciated the uncluttered but eye-catching look of the books.

The three volumes of the story work together to tell one seamless story, and my only regret is that I read them with intervals in between. I’d love to go back at some point and read all three straight through, as I think the dynamics and flow of the story would be even more powerful when read as a whole.

Alex + Ada is graphic storytelling at its finest. I highly recommend this gorgeous trilogy

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The details:

Title: Alex + Ada, volumes 1 – 3
Author: Sarah Vaughn
Illustrator: Jonathan Luna
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication date: 2014 – 2015
Length: 128 – 136 pages
Genre: Graphic novel
Source: Library

Graphic Reaction: The Good Neighbors series by Holly Black

Let’s talk about the terrific trilogy I just read! Presenting…

KinKith 0-439-85564-0

Holly Black excels at creating beautiful yet dangerous faerie worlds in her novels, and here she does so in graphic novel format.

Kin, Kith, and Kind tell the story of Rue Silver, a seemingly normal high school student whose life starts falling apart when her mother disappears. When her father, a folklore professor at the local university, is accused of murdering a student, things gets decidedly weirder.

Rue sees odd visions — people with horns or wings, a creature in the tree outside her house — and remembers all the slightly bizarre things about her mother. Like, for example, how her beautiful mother never seems to age, and how she hangs out naked in the garden, and how the flowers seem to respond to her.

The truth is slowly revealed: Rue’s mother is a faerie, making Rue only half-mortal. And it turns out there’s a plot afoot: Rue’s grandfather Aubrey is a faerie king, and wants to claim the entire city as a world for his people.

These books are such fun! There’s drama and danger, romantic love, passionate encounters, and familial love and loyalty at stake. The story builds, with Rue evolving into a force to be reckoned with, the more she claims her birthright and power.

I really liked the illustrations, which are in black and white throughout the three books. Rue and her friends are all distinct and well-drawn, and I love Rue’s depiction as a cool, funky, rebellious girl, in looks as well as in actions. The inhabitants of the faerie world are visually wonderful, with wings or fangs or talons, beautiful and menacing, and each one different and unusual. The details are terrific, and I particularly love the pages with crowd scenes, where all the various denizens of faerie (or the human world) appear as individuals, even when the page is teeming with them.

The story starts small, focusing on Rue and her personal dilemmas, and grows to a much wider scale, culminating in a fight for survival between the human and faerie worlds.

These books are a quick read, and ideally should be read right in a row for peak enjoyment. I found the Good Neighbors trilogy a really nice treat after a lot of heavier reading, and recommend them as a (dare I say it?) magical diversion when you’re looking for something a bit different to spend your time with.

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The details:

Title: Kin (book 1), Kith (book 2), Kind (book 3)
Author: Holly Black
Illustrator: Ted Naifeh
Publisher: Graphix
Publication date: 2008 – 2010
Length: 128 – 144 pages
Genre: Graphic novel
Source: Library