Do you remember being a kid, somewhere around 10 years old, and just getting lost in your own imagination for hours–inventing islands, monsters, and great journeys? Taking themes from stories or movies and re-casting yourself in the hero’s role? That feeling is exactly what reading this delightful graphic novel feels like. Isabel Greenberg’s The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is filled with the warmest cold weather tales you’ll ever witness. That warmth comes equally from her hilarious subtle humor, illustrations that are somehow gorgeous and adorable at once, and the rich well of myth that she pulls her source material from. This is not a story that makes sense… not really. It’s more about the role of storytelling itself in culture and in our lives. The power to save our lives and make people fall in love lies within Greenberg’s mischievous, ambitious pages. I can’t imagine a more wonderful thing to read.
Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It is where Southern Gothic meets millennial anxiety, and it’s a match made in the depths of hell. Of course, that’s exactly the point of this wholly disturbing psychological thrill ride. Jemc plays so intelligently with the fear that preys on coincidence and misperception–is that stain getting larger? Does anyone else hear that faint humming sound? Was that shadow I saw for a split second actually real, or just my imagination? When we can’t trust our own judgment, our minds can start to unravel, and Jemc builds that sense of disease so slowly that the reader almost doesn’t realize it before it’s too late. One of the delicious torments of this novel is the uncertainty that permeates every moment, which Jemc balances with indelible images of haunting that will make you hug a pillow for dear life as you read. Read it as an allegory of a dishonest marriage or just a good old-fashioned haunted house story. Either way, it’s creepily, deeply enjoyable.
I fell back into the world of the Red Rising saga like an iron rain. As someone who is already firmly ensconced in Brown’s work, I came to this novel ready to love it, and it did not disappoint. All the trademark features of the series are here: counterplots, twists that stop in their tracks and add a backflip on for good measure, and a heaping helping each of pageantry and violence. What’s new here is the added element of over a decade of time, which allows Brown to show Darrow as a man who must now reap the consequences of the social unrest that his war has spurred. The emotional depth of the story offers new and interesting views of beloved characters–children grow up, warlords tire of war, liberated people find themselves in new types of slavery, the downtrodden grow talons, and old feuds get even older. I enjoyed the three perspective technique present in the new trilogy, which helps us consider more sides in the fractured society that Brown presents. Another amazing ride. Pierce Brown’s brain amazes me, and I’m so happy he stays just sane enough to continue to bring his world to the masses. Counting down the days until the next novel comes out! Note: I would not recommend reading this book without first reading the previous three. The family trees and various alliances are maddeningly complicated at this point, but having the previous trilogy as a primer provides an anchor.
This guidebook is an absolute delight for the eyes and the mind, whether you’re a Victorian about town or a cephalapod waiting for its forever home. The charms of these whimsical illustrations are unlimited, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Kesinger’s subsequent octo-oriented titles! I smiled the whole way through.