Overview

The Good Neighbors Book One: Kin (ADVANCE)

Review

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The Good Neighbors Book One: Kin (ADVANCE)

Credits

  • Words: Holly Black
  • Art: Ted Naifeh
  • Inks: Ted Naifeh
  • Colors: N/A
  • Story Title: Book One: Kin
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc./Graphix
  • Price: $16.99

When your mother’s a faerie and your father’s wanted for murder, life is anything but dull in this graphic novel by the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles.

Rue’s world is turned upside down when her mother disappears. Her father is arrested for his wife’s murder, as well as that of one of his students. But even more disturbing, Rue begins to see bizarre visions everywhere she goes. Strange and frightening creatures lurk in every corner of her town, seen only by her. Slowly, the young woman begins to realize that she’s not insane, that her mother is, in fact, one of the faeries—the so-called "Good Neighbors" who have fascinated and terrorized humanity for centuries. No big deal, right? Rue’s a smart girl. She can handle it.

Holly Black has achieved a runaway success with her young adult fantasy novels, The Spiderwick Chronicles. She now hopes to bring some of that same magic to the world of comics. Like many recent fantasy stories, The Good Neighbors combines the mundane and the fantastic, re-imagining ancient myths in the context of a modern urban setting. Black’s tale of the Fair Folk lurking unseen among us is not wildly innovative as contemporary fantasies go (magic beings hiding under oblivious humanity’s nose is practically a genre unto itself by now) but the story is well-crafted and competently told. She skillfully blends the mystical elements with a murder mystery, family drama, and a bit of ever-popular teen angst. Black also does not shy away from the darker aspects of faerie legend, which gives the story a nicely unsettling aspect at times.

There are a few instances of awkward transitions or missing information that remind us that this is Black’s first attempt at a graphic novel. However, if you’re a fan of contemporary fantasy or have an interest in the fae, the book is a solid read overall.

A significant reason for that is the excellent artwork by Ted Naifeh (of Polly and the Pirates and Gloomcookie, among others). Naifeh has a solid grasp of realism that makes the fantasy that much more disquieting when it’s introduced. He frequently blends the two in a very subtle and organic way, leading the reader’s eye to the gradual transition between them. This contributes to the atmosphere of magic hiding just at the corners of Rue’s world. Naifeh’s expert use of grayshading also does wonders for setting the mood of the piece. His depiction of Rue bears a slight resemblance to actress Clea DuVall, though not to the extent that it becomes distracting.

Scholastic’s Graphix line has been putting out some extraordinary all-ages and young adult comics that may be slipping under the radar of most comics fans. If you have kids or enjoy this type of classic storytelling, I would highly recommend giving their books a look.

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