Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Good Neighbors: Volume One: Kin by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

Rue Silver's mother has left, and her father has sunk into a daze of doing nothing- watching TV and completely ignoring his job as a professor. Rue is worried for her family, because as far as she can remember, her mother had no family.

Worse, Rue has always been different, and aware that her mother is/was different as well. She believed that trees talked, had their own language, and was able to understand them. And Rue sometimes sees things straight on that she can't see out of the corner of her eye. Strange things, uncanny things. And plants are responding to her in a way they never have before- saving her from falling.

In fact, plants seem to be taking over the town. But when her father is arrested for the murder of one of his graduate students, she meets the members of her mother's family. And she can see that they aren't human. At all.

But Rue is determined to find the truth of what happened to her mother, and also of the graduate school girl who died. Who killed them, why did her mother leave, and who is really responsible for the utter mess Rue's life has become? Rue will have to find out for herself, and save a faery whose cloak of feathers has been stolen and used to blackmail him.

But when her mother returns and tells Rue she's dying, is it even really her mother,or are the faeries just playing another trick on Rue and her father?

I love Holly Black's tales of faerie, and I've enjoyed Ted Naifeh's stuff ever since he did Courtney Crumrin and Death, Jr. This graphic novel brings together the best of both worlds for a story that feels truly creepy. Rue starts out with friends, but the things she discovers about herself and what she can do begin to cut her off from those she loves, and those who love her.

But she not only learns about herself, but about Faery and how her parents came together, and why her mother left. Her father promised to be true to her mother only, but she remained young while he aged, and then he grew scared of her unchanging, unaging beauty- so he had an affair with an old friend of his- just once, but to faeries, whose rules of honor are unchanging, that once was enough.

And now Rue's grandfather has it in for humans. He wants them to remember why his people were called "The Good Neighbors"- not because they were nice or kind, but to placate them, because humans were scared of them. But was the betrayal of their marriage vows by Rue's father to her mother the last straw, or what really set him on the path of this revenge? I don't know, and I don't know how Rue can fight her grandfather, but it seems that she'll never have a "normal" life again, whatever that is.

I loved this graphic novel. It can be a little difficult to read, but it tells a story every bit as gripping as a book, and Ted Naifeh's art is a perfect compliment to the words and dialogue, revealing a world both dark and strange, with things lurking in the forest and the blackness of the shadows. I highly recommend this graphic novel for being a great, mysterious read.

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