Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom by Ted Naifeh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a book essentially about being an outsider and being misunderstood by everyone. That's the story of Courtney Crumrin's life. Her parents don't understand her at all. She's considered the weird kid at school. When she goes back to visit her parents, she reconnects with her former best friend, and they have grown apart. He's fallen in with a bad crowd, and though Courtney tries to save him, she can't save their friendship.
I could intensely identify with Courtney in the sense I was not a popular kid. I was picked on a lot growing up. One thing that I feel was a real blessing about it, was I learned to embrace the fact that you are your own person and you can make decisions for yourself and do your own thing. Like Courtney, it made me feel lonely at time, but there were consolations.
When Courtney gets back to her Uncle Aloyisus' house, she has to deal with the popular kids of the warlock families. They take bullying to a new level when they cast a spell of one of them's younger brothers. While Courtney would rather not get involved, she knows that she has to do something to help the kid, who was turned into a Night Thing. As since she has personal experience with the Twilight Kingdom, of course she has to lead the expedition to get him back.
This book is also about making good choices. Doing the right thing even when it's hard and the rewards seem nebulous. Courtney is not what I'd call a girl scout, and she did something really bad to get revenge (or in her mind, so see justice done), she hasn't completely lost her moral compass. I liked that about this book. And of course, the Faerie elements.
I like the way Courtney is drawn. She's sassy, with her little bat barrette and Gothesque outfits. She's kind of like Daria in the way she expresses herself.
I'm really starting to like this series more. It's not an upbeat read, mind you, but it's atmospheric, and you can't help but like Courtney.
This is all in black and white, but it shows how much you can really do with chiaroscuro (light and dark shading). I'm sort of lazy when it comes to it, but it challenges me to work on this technique.
I would exercise caution if I was a parent of a prospective child reader. You might want to read this first. Some subject matter and themes are not appropriate for younger readers. I would say this is 11 and older.
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