Monday, January 18, 2010
Bone: Rose, published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 142 pages, $10.99.
I was thrilled to discover that Scholastic, the company which is reprinting every volume of Jeff Smith's Bone series, also reproduced the prequel, Rose.
Suspended AnimationThe back story of a pivotal character in Bone, Rose is the tale of two sisters, both seeking to grow into the possible role of ruler of their people. However, while Rose seeks to develop her "dreaming eye", and becomes the defender of her land against the Lord of Locusts, her sister, Briar, takes a different path.
While much well-deserved praise has gone up for Bone, I can't imagine a more intriguing, entertaining and captivating addition than this coming-of-age story. Distinguished by the same elements of fantasy, horror and whimsy, Rose bears all of the earmarks that make Jeff Smith a heavyweight in the arena of comics and graphic novels.
Describing the artwork of Charles Vess has never been easy for me. His is not a style based on realism, but neither is it "cartoony". Perhaps the most suitable phrase I can apply to it is fantasy-based. Under Vess' hand, Rose appears and reads exactly as I believe it should; like a classic storybook, only tinged with a sense of surrealism. His locales are thick with atmosphere, his characters are highly communicative, and his sense of storytelling is powerful and dramatic. And, in the midst of it all is the sensation that, even without the dragon, rat-creatures and mysterious cloaked figures, one would still be assured that they are most certainly somewhere….else. In the world of comics, no other artist can surpass Vess' sense of ambiance.
Rose is recommended to all but the youngest of readers. Most fans of fantasy books, comics and movies, including works by C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkein, are likely to find it worth their while. Look for it in bookstores, comics shops, libraries, and online auctions and retailers.
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Review by Mark Allen