Overview

Amulet Book 1: The Stonekeeper (ADVANCE)

Review

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Amulet Book 1: The Stonekeeper (ADVANCE)

Credits

  • Words: Kazu Kibuishi
  • Art: Kazu Kibuishi
  • Inks: Kazu Kibuishi
  • Colors: Kazu Kibuishi
  • Story Title: The Stonekeeper
  • Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic, Inc.
  • Price: $9.99

A young girl inherits an item of great power and is drawn into a strange and frightening world in this latest addition to Scholastic’s graphic novel line.

Following the tragic death of her father, Emily and her brother Navin are packed up by their mother and taken to the family’s ancestral home to start a new life. Exploring the aged house, Emily comes across a mysterious necklace which seems to speak directly to her mind. But before she can ponder this enigma, her mother is kidnapped by a monstrous tentacled beastie that emerges from a secret door in the basement. Emily and Navin must follow this creature into the parallel world of Alledia, where the secrets of the necklace and their family’s lineage await.

The Stonekeeper is the first volume in a projected series of Amulet graphic novels for young readers by cartoonist Kazu Kibuishi (creator of Viper Comics’ Daisy Kutter). The scenario of a young child being drawn into a parallel world of magic and adventure is a common theme in fantasy fiction, though with good reason. This concept strikes a chord with the inner child in all of us, with the memories of the little kid who fantasized about something scary or wondrous lurking in the darker corners of the basement. Amulet does not offer anything particularly new to this sub-genre but its story is told with admirable craft and a charming sense of whimsy and humor.

The robots that assist the aged Silas Charnon are among the highlights of the book, especially the cranky Coggsley and the loveable Miskit, who has the form of a talking rabbit, for no apparent reason other than that it evidently amused his creator. There is a dark undercurrent to this world as well however, as evidenced by some of the unsetting creatures Kibuishi creates, such as the eerie vulture-like conebeaks and the ravenous arachnopod. Kibuishi also adds an interesting note of uncertainty to the power Emily has been granted, offering her temptations and casting doubt on the benevolent nature of the voice in her head.

Kibuishi’s art contributes to the charm of the book with a style that rests squarely between American cartooning and a hint of manga influence. His characters have a very cute and likeable design and the artist skillfully elicits reader sympathy through the extremes of emotion reflected in their troubled faces. The pacing and layout of the panels give the story a sense of energy that instantly draws the reader in. Only a few pages of my preview copy had finished colors but the palette presented a rich, almost sepia tone style in places that gave the story a timeless feel.

Overall, Amulet Book 1 is a promising addition to Scholastic’s Graphix line. It should appeal to children of all ages as well as adults with a still-active imagination or a desire to fly a cropduster with a mechanical rabbit through a tunnel of hungry squids (and really, deep down, wouldn’t you like to try this at least once?).

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