Reading Pile: Brindille GN HC
My inability to say no to most Magnetic Press Kickstarter books lead me to back this new project by the creative team of the Love series. It was part of a package deal with Love: The Mastiff and they tossed in a bunch of nice (but generally useless to me) knick-knacks like pins, patches, and a coin. A lot of that stuff will just gather dust, but hey it's all a nice bonus to go along with the Kickstarter exclusive cover by Ben Caldwell. And while I generally loath the idea of variants for hardcovers, I do like Caldwell and I think it's less loathsome an idea when it's for directly supporting a publisher and it makes sense to create some sort of exclusivity to drive the success of the campaign.
This slightly Bone-esque story follows a young girl who escapes a raging forest fire, scaling a giant wall that leads her into a magical land. Exhausted and with no memories of who she is or where she came from, she's found by the denizens of a small elf village who take her in and care for her.
Eventually though her path leads her out of the village, where she meets a wolf who knows a little about her situation and that she has a long journey ahead of her, one where she has to survive dark and mysterious creatures known as Shadow Hunters. The course of their journey takes them across a harsh landscape where along the way Brindille faces off against a horde of darkness, mermaids, sea monsters, and her own fears.
The first few acts are well paced and they heap on a lot of intrigue, plus the flow of the journey is really engaging as they reveal more and more of the world. Unfortunately, I felt as if the story needed to be expanded by at least a few chapters as the payoff felt a little sudden and left a few elements unresolved. While the ending explains some of the the conflict and the purpose of the antagonists, it's a little frustrating to have to sit through nearly 188 pages of wondering what the motivations are for a lightly developed cast where no one has a clear-cut sense of purpose besides Brindille and the wolf and it's simply 'Brindille has to stand up to the Shadow Hunters'. The story is attempting to be multi-layered with some existential metaphors, and for the most part it works, but its vagueness made it feel like it didn't quite earn the release of the ending.
Despite my issues, it's still a lavishly designed book with some utterly beautiful artwork that creates an engaging adventure. I'm so used to Brrémaud and Bertolucci's silent narratives that it's a nice treat to read a traditional fantasy comic from them, and I still got a lot out of this package. There are enough single panels alone that are incredibly breathtaking pieces of art, plus plenty of double-page splashes of gorgeous vistas to make everything worthwhile. So while the story may not have hit me 100%, this is well worth it as an artbook.
As mentioned the book clocks in at 188 pages, which includes a nice sketchbook section in the back. It's a great looking 8.5x11 hardcover package with nice binding and a fancy foil logo on the cover and spine. And I know I should care more about the contents but if I am judging books by their covers Magnetic Press just does a consistently great job at making their books really alluring and nice to display on your shelves.
Brindille is categorized as YA and ages 14+, and that's probably mostly due to the minor mermaid nudity that pops up during the middle of the adventure. There's some fantasy violence and blood, but it's all pretty light. I would say if you're looking for an art showcase with a fantasy flair this is well worth checking out, and if you're a fan of the Love series you're going to want this no matter what.